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Monday, April 09, 2007

Maritime Security: Updates

From New Zealand: Ships to be tracked electronically:
All ships approaching New Zealand's coastline are to be tracked electronically as part of a major overhaul of shipping safety, designed to reduce accidents and prevent crime and terrorism.

Ships will be tracked from an operations centre in Lower Hutt, using a sophisticated monitoring system built and run by state-owned enterprise Kordia for Maritime New Zealand.

The International Maritime Organisation issued a global edict in 2000 that all ships weighing more than 300 tonnes must be fitted with GPS transceivers and computers that send a VHF signal every six to 20 seconds, depending on the ship's speed.

The signals identify the ship and provide a host of information about each vessel. This includes its location, direction, speed, turning angle, size and type of cargo.

Originally designed to reduce the risk of collisions at sea, the Automatic Identification System took on a new dimension after the September 11 terrorist attacks, says Maritime Operations Centre manager Brendan Comerford.
About Mexico: Mexican ports, oil rigs vulnerable to attacks:
When a group claiming to be part of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia called in February for jihadists to strike Mexican oil installations in a bid to cripple the U.S. economy, Mexico announced that its navy had gone on alert and had stepped up surveillance of offshore oil platforms and port facilities.

A month later, however, a McClatchy reporter was able to approach Mexican oil installations virtually unchallenged, raising questions about how secure Mexico's ports are from terrorist attacks.

After Canada, Mexico is the largest foreign source of crude for the oil-addicted U.S. economy. An attack that seriously disrupted that supply could drive up gasoline prices in the United States as well as disrupt Mexico's economy, which is heavily dependent on oil revenues.
Some North Korea-Ethiopia transactions that might raise eyebrows:
Several officials said they first learned that Ethiopia planned to receive a delivery of military cargo from North Korea when the country's government alerted the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, after the adoption on Oct. 14 of the U.N. Security Council measure imposing sanctions.

“The Ethiopians came back to us and said, “Look, we know we need to transition to different customers, but we just can't do that overnight,”' said one U.S. official, who added that the issue had been handled properly. “They pledged to work with us at the most senior levels.”

U.S. intelligence agencies in late January reported that an Ethiopian cargo ship that was probably carrying tank parts and other military equipment had left a North Korean port.

The exact value of the shipment is unclear, but Ethiopia purchased $20 million dollars worth of arms from North Korea in 2001, according to U.S. estimates, a general pattern that officials said had continued. The United States provides millions of dollars of foreign aid and some non-lethal military equipment to Ethiopia.

After a brief debate in Washington, the decision was made not to block the arms deal and to press Ethiopia

John R. Bolton, who helped to push the resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea through the Security Council in October, before stepping down as U.N. ambassador, said that the Ethiopians had long known that Washington was concerned about their arms purchases from North Korea and that the Bush administration should not have tolerated the January shipment.

“To make it clear to everyone how strongly we feel on this issue we should have gone to the Ethiopians and said they should send it back,” said Bolton, who said he was unaware of the deal before being contacted for this article. “I know they have been helpful in Somalia, but there is a nuclear weapons program in North Korea that is unhelpful for everybody worldwide.

“Never underestimate the strength of “clientitis' at the State Department,” said Bolton, using Washington jargon for a situation in which State Department officials are deemed to be overly sympathetic to the countries they conduct diplomacy with.

Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, declined to comment on the specifics of the arms shipment but said the United States was “deeply committed to upholding and enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions.” Repeated efforts to contact the Ethiopian Embassy were unsuccessful.

In other cases, the United States has been strict in enforcing the Security Council resolution. For instance, U.S. intelligence agencies tracked a North Korean freighter suspected of carrying illicit weapons and pressed several nations to refuse to allow the ship to dock. The government of Myanmar, formerly Burma, finally allowed it to anchor and insisted that officials had found no cargo that violated the resolution.
Malta (and the Mediterranean) gets more Maritime Security -through U.S. Coast Guard training:
Maritime safety and security in the Mediterranean and West Africa will improve following the graduation of international officers who attended a second class held by the Armed Forces of Malta Search and Rescue Training Centre (SAR-TC). The graduation ceremony was officiated by Brigadier Carmel Vassallo, Commander AFM at Luqa Barracks last month.

Eleven students from Mauritania, Algeria, Egypt, Cyprus and Malta completed an intensive one-month Search Mission Coordinator and Counter Narcotics course that prepares them to execute all phases of a SAR case, from initial notification, to search planning and coordination, to resolution. It also provides students with a solid foundation of the drug threat, smuggling trends, international law regarding drugs and use of force in preventing drug smuggling.

The SAR-TC course has only been possible thanks to close cooperation between the AFM and the American Embassy. The AFM course instructors were all trained at the US Coast Guard’s National SAR School in Yorktown, Virginia. Training at the SAR-TC is modelled on US Coast Guard methodology and updated to International Aeronautical and Maritime SAR Manual standard.

Although the SAR-TC is an AFM facility, the US Coast Guard contributes to its instructor staff, both permanently and temporarily. Commander Brian Lisko, assigned to the American Embassy, is on the staff of the SAR-TC and regularly teaches several SAR classes to international students.

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