Philippine Sea

Monday, February 09, 2009

Latest ONI Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report (to 6 Feb 09)

The latest ONI Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report (to 6 Feb 09) can be found
here. Highlights:
1. ONI SPECIAL ADVISORY: A suspicious skiff was reported in location 13:52N –
050:12E at 0636 UTC on 27 Jan 09, approximately 75 NM southeast of Al Mukalla, Yemen. The suspicious skiff was described as a blue hull speed boat, 10 meters in length with five to six people onboard, heading 358 degrees with a speed of 14 knots. The sighting was reported to a naval warship in the area, which proceeded to investigate the skiff. The warship reported having seized five pirates and their ammunition and weapons. Another speed boat was also sighted in the area. ONI Comment: Somali pirates have recently released multiple vessels after receiving ransom payments. Past reporting suggests efforts to hijack additional vessels increase as previously hijacked vessels are released. Past reporting also suggests efforts to hijack vessels increase as wind speeds decrease. Over the next 48 hours, wave heights are only expected to reach 1 ft., with wind speeds averaging 10 kts, which is very condusive to piracy operations. Pirates appear to be most active and successful when average wind speeds are between 0 to 10 knots. Activity is also reported when winds are between 10 to 15 knots but pirates appear to be less successful under these conditions. Little to no incidents are reported when winds average between 15 to 20+ knots. This time of year, when prevailing monsoon winds are out of the Northeast, wind speeds are lower and more conducive to piracy operations closer to the Yemeni coast and less favorable in the central Gulf of Aden. Information on current wave heights for the Gulf of Aden and east coast of Somalia can be found here. (NB E1: Wind forecast for Gulf of Aden from here and added by me - you might note that some of the winds are in the 5-10 knot range).
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4. NIGERIA: Vessel attacked, captain killed 5 Feb 09 at 0200 UTC while operating in an oilfield off the coast of southern Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom state. Two private security groups working in the sector said a gang in two boats attacked the vessel. The captain of the vessel was killed and one other crewmember was injured, according to sources (AP, Reuters).
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5. NIGERIA: Loading vessel (LAMNALCO WAXBILL), tanker (FRONT CHIEF), tug
boat attacked 18 Jan 09, early morning at a crude loading platform in the Bonny oil terminal, owned by Shell and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. According to sources, Nigerian militants attempted to board the tanker (FRONT CHIEF) but were unable to do so, then turned their attention to the (LAMNALCO WAXBILL) as it was loading crude oil. The militants abducted eight Nigerians from a nearby tugboat, killing another, and wounding the captain. The militant group MEND later claimed its affiliates were behind the attack (AFP, Reuters, LL).
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6. NIGERIA: Tanker (MEREDITH) attacked 21 Jan 09, early morning while underway in the Bonny Fairway Buoy in the Niger Delta. Heavily armed assailants riding in four speedboats hit the tanker with dynamite at around dawn as it was in transit to Port Harcourt with approximately 4,000 tons of diesel fuel. A Romanian crewmember was taken hostage but later released according to Nigerian military officials. An official said the unidentified gunmen inflicted “massive” damage on the tanker’s engine and superstructure. The militant group MEND later claimed its affiliates had carried out the attack (UPI, Reuters, AP).
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7. NIGERIA: Cable ship (VIKING FORCADOS) fired upon 13 Jan 09 while underway in the Niger Delta. Gunmen reached the ship on two or three swift boats and managed to climb aboard its deck but were unable to get inside. Crew members barricaded themselves in the superstructure. The gunmen shot at the craft before disappearing after approximately two hours. None of the 52 crewmembers were injured, and ship suffered material damage (AFP, LM: Norway Post).
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8. NIGERIA: Oil platform attacked 7 Jan 09 off the coast of Akwa Ibom. Gunmen in a flat-bottomed vessel raided the oil platform, and also attacked a nearby oil services vessel. According to a witness, the gunmen shot into the air and ordered everyone into one room, threatening to kill them. The raid lasted for approximately two hours. A private security contractor said the gunmen had stolen phones, valuables, and money. They were initially thought to have taken three hostages, but all the occupants of the three locations had since been accounted for (Reuters).
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1. GULF OF ADEN: Bulk carrier reported suspicious approach 29 Jan 09 at 0620 UTC while underway in position 12:27N – 044:10E. Gunmen in six speed boats surrounded the vessel underway. The master raised the alarm, took evasive maneuvers and the crew activated fire hoses. One of the speedboats chased the vessel for about one mile. Seeing the alert crew and the aggressive maneuvers the men stopped chasing the ship. Later, the master noticed another five boats waiting in the vicinity of the ship. The master immediately activated SSAS and contacted the coalition forces. A Chinese helicopter arrived at 0710 UTC and the men eventually abandoned their pursuit. Later, a German coalition warship arrived at the location. The ship continued on its voyage (IMB).
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2. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker reported suspicious approach 2 Feb 09 while underway in position 12:21N – 043:58E. A total of approximately 14 skiffs approached the vessel with armed persons onboard. Some of the men in the boats were dressed in camouflage military style uniforms. Four of the skiffs crossed the bow of the vessel to the port side while four others were on the starboard side. The master increased speed and raised the alarm while the crew activated fire hoses. The incident lasted approximately 15 minutes before the suspicious craft gave up their pursuit (Operator, IMB).
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3. GULF OF ADEN: Vessel (AFRICAN RUBY) reported suspicious approach 27 Jan 09 at 0636 UTC while underway in position 13:52N – 050:12E. The captain spotted a blue hull speed boat, 10 meters in length with five or six people onboard bearing 358 degrees with a speed of 14 kts. The captain reported the craft to a nearby naval warship which deployed a helicopter to investigate. Fourteen pirates were later ceased along with weapons and ammunition (IMB, AFP).
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4. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker (LONGCHAMP) hijacked 29 Jan 09 at 0340 UTC while
underway in position 14:10N – 049:58E. The tanker was reportedly en route from Norway to Vietnam when it was attacked and boarded by seven pirates, according to a spokesman for the ship’s company. There are 13 crew members onboard including 12 Filipino and one Indonesian (IMB, UPI, Reuters).
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N. ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC NON-STATE ACTIVIST GROUPS:
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1. SEA SHEPHERD: Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling vessel (STEVE IRWIN) collided with Japanese whaler on 6 Feb 09, in the Southern Ocean near Antartica. The (STEVE IRWIN) collided with the (YUSHIN MARU 2) as the harpoon vessel tried to block its attempt to prevent the transfer of a dead whale up the slipway of the factory ship (NISSHIN MARU), according to the captain of the (STEVE IRWIN), Paul Watson. The collision crushed a railing at the back of the Japanese ship, but there were no reports of injuries. In a statement, the Japanese research group condemned the protesters’ actions. The day before, members onboard the (STEVE IRWIN) tbrew bottles of butyric acid (rancid butter) and prop fouling devices at the Japanese
ships. The whalers reportedly responded by hurling pieces of blubber and whale meat at the ship. Earlier in the week, activists from Sea Shepherd accused Japanese whalers of injuring members onboard the (STEVE IRWIN) by using long range acoustic devices against the protesters. A spokesman for the research group denied these claims and insisted any actions taken were in self defense (AFP, AP, Reuters).

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