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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Latest ONI Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report (to 18 March 09)

The latest ONI Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report (to 18 March 09) can be found here. Highlights:
3.  GULF OF ADEN:  NATO ships in new anti-piracy mission off Somalia, 11 Mar 09. 
NATO warships will be in position next week to conduct a new anti-piracy operation in a major
world shipping area off the coast of Somalia, the alliance's chief spokesman, James Appathurai
said Wednesday. He said that seven ships -- one each from the United States, Canada, the
Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain, with two vessels from Germany -- would exit the Suez Canal
on March 19. "They will be there for about one month, and then they will go on and do port
visits, and come back and near the end of June conduct about two more weeks of counter-piracy
operations," Appathurai said. The operation has been dubbed "Allied Protector" (AFP).
***
G. WEST AFRICA:
.
1. NIGERIA: Oil station attacked 16 Mar 09 at Nembe in Bayelsa State. Suspected armed
militants in five gunboats attacked an oil flow station, operated by Royal Dutch Shell, according
to a military spokesman. There was no damage to the oil station, and no injuries reported
(Reuters).
.
2. NIGERIA: Passenger boats attacked, women abducted 14 Mar 09 while underway from
Bonny Island to Part Harcourt. According to a Nigerian military spokesman, gunmen attacked
two passenger boats, forcing the men to jump overboard. They then abducted at least five
women and brutally raped and tortured them. The women were later rescued by the Nigerian
military after receiving a distress call (BBC, LM: Afriquejet).
.
3. NIGERIA: Tanker boarded 11 Mar 09 at 0252 UTC while anchored in position 06:19N –
003:25E, Lagos anchorage. Men armed with guns, knives, and iron rods boarded the vessel and
assaulted the crew. The captain and another crew member were seriously injured. The captain
received medical treatment onboard while the other injured crew member was sent ashore for
medical treatment. The vessel weighed anchor and proceeded away from port. A full report and
more details are awaited from the owners (IMB).
.
4. NIGERIA: Ferry hijacked, passengers kidnapped 4 Mar 09 midday local time while
underway near the Bonny Island gas terminal at Dutch Island Creek. While transiting from Port
Harcourt to Bonny Island, the ferry was hijacked by gunmen, who then robbed all the passengers
of their valuables. The passengers were later released along a mangrove at a creek. However,
the vessel’s boat driver and conductor were still held onboard. No injuries to the released
passengers were reported. No group has claimed responsibility for the hijacking (AFP, Reuters).
.
5. NIGERIA: Tanker fired upon 22 Feb 09 at 2340 UTC while underway in position 03:59N
– 006:46E, 40NM southwest of Bonny Island Port Facility. Five men armed with automatic
guns in a high-speed boat and two men in a fishing boat approached the vessel underway. They
opened fire at the bridge and attempted to board. The master raised the alarm, increased speed
and took evasive maneuvers. Due to the evasive maneuvering, the gunmen aborted the attack
(IMB).
.
6. CAMEROON: Vessel (SIL TIDE) attacked, crewmembers kidnapped 14 Mar 09 while
underway approximately 8NM off the coast of Bakassi, on the Nigeria-Cameroon border.
According to security officials, approximately 30 gunmen in speedboats attacked the vessel early
morning. Around five shots were fired and six men were taken as hostages. All six hostages
were released two days later (AFP, LM: AfricaNews).
***
H. INDIAN OCEAN-EAST AFRICA:
.
1. BAB-EL-MANDEB: Vessel reported suspicious approach 16 Mar 09 at 1505 UTC while
underway in position 12:33N – 043:25E. Five men in two speed boats armed with guns
approached the vessel from the port bow. The captain conducted evasive maneuvers while
reporting the incident on VHF Ch. 16, but received no reply. The speed boats abandoned their
pursuit after 10 minutes (Operator, IMB).
.
2. GULF OF ADEN: Cargo vessel (DIAMOND FALCON) fired upon 14 Mar 09 at 0629
UTC while underway in position 13:42N – 049:19E, approximately 50NM southeast of Al
Mukalla, Yemen. Two skiffs with men onboard armed with automatic weapons and RPGs fired
upon the vessel. The captain conducted evasive maneuvers and counter-piracy measures while a
Turkish warship nearby dispatched two helicopters to provide assistance along with a Danish
warship. The men in the two skiffs fled the scene after the warships’ arrival, but no arrests were
made. The vessel escaped but reported 40-45 shots around the bridge with minimal damage. No
injuries to the crew were reported (Operator, AFP).
***
4. GULF OF ADEN: Vessel reported suspicious approach 11 Mar 09 at 0520 UTC while
underway in position 13:16N – 049:44E. A suspicious boat was sighted drifting at 5 miles
distance on the starboard beam. The vessel continued its transit, and the distanced to the
suspicious boat was reduced to less than 2 miles. The boat had a white hull with one wooden
mast in the center, with five to six men onboard. The boat then began moving towards the
vessel, increasing speed. The captain began conducting evasive maneuvers and called nearby
warships via VHF Ch. 16. The general alarm was sounded and the crew mustered. At
approximately 1 mile away, the boat reversed course and then began drifting again. Ten minutes
later, two coalition warships arrived. The warships contacted the vessel and instructed them to
proceed with full speed (Operator, IMB).
***
.
14. INDIAN OCEAN: Iranian dhow reported hijacked on 16 Mar 09 while underway near
the northern Puntland region of Somalia. According to sources, Somali villagers seized the
dhow for reportedly fishing illegally without the permission of the Puntland Administration.
Further information is pending (PRESS TV).
.
15. INDIAN OCEAN: Vessel reported suspicious approach 13 Mar 09 at 0713 UTC while
underway in position 07:11N – 058:50E. The vessel reported being chased by one speed boat
with six men onboard armed with AK-47s. The master conducted evasive maneuvers and the
men in the skiff eventually abandoned their pursuit (Operator, IMB).
.
16. INDIAN OCEAN: Vessel fired upon 11 March 09 at 2240 UTC while underway in
position 04:02S - 046:33E, approximately 410 NM east of Mombasa, Kenya. One white skiff
with an unknown number of assailants came within 100 meters of the vessel and fired machine
guns and rocket propelled grenade. A second larger boat was observed in the vicinity. The alert
mariners took appropriate anti-piracy measures and escaped but sustained minor damage to the
vessel and one crewmember was injured (IMB).
.
17. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier fired upon 10 Mar 09 at 0500 UTC while underway in
position 08:06N – 059:11E. Four men in a light blue boat approached the vessel armed with
automatic rifles and began firing shots toward the starboard superstructure. The vessel
conducted evasive maneuvers and managed to escape. The captain sustained minor gunshot
wounds. The incident was reported to UKMTO (Operator, IMB).
.
18. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier (SHANGHAI VENTURE) fired upon 9 Mar 09 at 1751
UTC while underway in position 08:01N – 058:43E. The duty officer onboard noticed one speed
boat approaching from 1.5NM away at a speed of approximately 17kts. The captain alerted the
crew who mustered at the bridge and engine room. All watertight doors were closed from the
inside. Water pumps were used to refill the ballast tanks at the same time to cause the water to
overflow from both sides of the main deck. The vessel increased to maximum speed. The armed
pirates started shooting from the port quarter and attempted to board. All lights on the vessel
were turned off and evasive maneuvers were conducted. The pirates then attempted to board a
second time by shooting at the bridge with machine guns. The vessel conducted evasive
maneuvers again and were able to prevent the pirates from boarding. The pirate skiff then stayed
back in the stern wave and stopped chasing the vessel, but the crew remained alert during this
time. Approximately one hour later, they were aware of the speed boat chasing them again, at
3.5NM away with a speed of 17kts. The pirates attempted to board the vessel for a third time,
but the vessel conducted evasive maneuvers as before and managed to escape. The speed boat
eventually stopped its pursuit. The speed boat was identified as grey colored and 5-7 meters in
length. No crewmembers were injured during the attack, but the bridge window was broken and
91 bullet marks were found, with some bullets passing through the plate. ONI Comment:
Attacks during the night are rare, but the moon phase was in a waxing gibbous at a near 100%
illumination with minimal cloud cover, making night time operations more favorable (Operator,
IMB, LL).
Red "ship" icons on map reflect locations of attacks 14, 15 and 16 identified under "Indian Ocean" above. Click on map to increase size. This is an effort to show possible spread of piracy to areas not patrolled by naval forces.

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