Sea under Siege: Getting to the bottom of Maritime piracy and How to tackle it

be 6

On the 24th of September, a group of pirates attacked a Swiss cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria, kidnapping 12 crew members in a region that has seen dozens of similar attacks so far this year.

During the first quarter of 2018, the Gulf of Guinea alone accounted for around 40 % of the world’s overall maritime piracy incidents evidencing the perennial presence of theft and violence at sea.  Nigerian waters are now rated worse than Somalia as the global maritime report on piracy has put Nigeria on the spot.

There have been many a great additions to the spectrum of dangers to the maritime economy. Illegal activity in protected areas, import/export of prohibited goods, exploitation of preserved and endangered natural resources, marine pollution, illegal maritime arrivals, bio-security risks, and maritime terrorism are some of the primary factors comprising this notorious list. But still, it is maritime piracy that continues to be the greatest troublemaker of them all.

Somalia has seen unprecedented amounts of violence, types of which were unknown to modern day shipping. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has spent a great amount of resources to fight against this growing threat of maritime piracy by making use of international relationships with maritime agencies, encouraging heightened collaboration between states, strengthening defenses of potentially vulnerable vessels and promoting greater vigilance among ship owners.

Maritime security threats are an amalgamation of various concerns and thus attempting to solve one problem without understanding other associated threats will more often than not result in a failure.

For instance, Somalian piracy was the end result, but it had its origins in illegal unreported and unregulated fishing. The fishermen, deprived of their livelihood by foreign IUU fishing vessels, resorted instead to maritime piracy and so a criminal enterprise was born.

The same is now transpiring in the Gulf of Guinea and Southeast Asia, with the initial catalyst to both being states’ failure to control fisheries and their own exclusive economic zones.

A recent innovation to combat this has been integrated maritime surveillance systems, which enable the sharing of data between multiple agencies and ultimately nations. The use of artificial intelligence within the systems enables the most advanced to identify, through satellite tracking, those vessels displaying high-threat behavior and then highlight them to an operator. But this is up to the states being afflicted and concerned governments investing some amount of resource in association with IMB.

But until concrete steps are taken to curb this menace, it is the down to individual companies, vessel masters and ship-owners to take protect their on-board resources – both life and property which can be headache in absence of expertise needed to handle these High Risk Areas and associated routes.

To help protect ship-owners’ interest in these treacherous waters, Alphard’s Security division combines the wealth of experience in our management structures and applies our expertise to provide a cost effective maritime product. We offer a highly competitive rate based on a detailed risk assessment and a tailored client focused product whilst maintaining the highest adherence to industry standards.

Alphard Maritime understands that Risk Assessments are a critical element of any counter-piracy solution. With our dedicated 24 hours Operations Department, we closely monitor all relevant sources of intelligence for information that will assist in the protection of our clients. Alphard invests in the right personnel who are able to interpret the data for the elements which are intrinsic with operational success. The detailed Risk Assessments are the output of this correlation of data that Alphard produces, which is very useful for every transit our teams undertakes. We provide tailored Intelligence Analysis reports which is collected and scrutinized from multiple reliable sources to provide our clients with a dedicated and effective view of any possible threats.

We have a strong track record and a client list of over 300 companies, protecting more than 1000 merchant vessels (EXXON, BP, Anglo-Eastern, MOL, V Ships, Fleet Management, Columbia, Executive Ship management). We also provide maritime security services in West Africa which includes operations from/to Lomé in the highly dangerous Gulf of Guinea Piracy HRA – (High Risk Area).


For more information and inquiries – visit us at



Controlling Hull Fouling: Behind the scenes of what keeps your ship ticking

be 4.jpg

The relation of hull condition to fuel efficiency is no rocket science. For oceangoing vessels, there are opposing processes: for instance, the faster the ship moves through the water, the slower the growth of marine life on the hull; on the other hand, the more marine life that grows on the hull, the greater the resistance against the ship which in turn results in slower speeds and lesser distances covered.

The Clean Shipping Coalition estimates that a ship owner can ascertain fuel savings of 15 to 20 percent if the optimal coating technology were matched to vessels, properly applied and maintained. There is a corresponding decrease in emissions to be enjoyed as well. Even a small amount of smooth surface disruption on a ship propeller or hull can produce enough turbulence to reduce fuel efficiency. Therefore, there is good amount of reason to take proper preventive measures against the hull fouling of a ship.

Bio-fouling also has an adverse effect on the marine ecology of ports. The deep water vessels that transport cargo across vast oceans also have a propensity to transport viable marine life. These ships can carry invasive species which can harm the regional ecology and the mechanisms for transporting these are regulated by the International Maritime Organization.

Comprehensive guidelines have been established by IMO with respect to bio-fouling. For oceangoing vessels, it is very important for all stakeholders – both ashore and crew members on board– to keep the hulls of their ships free from fouling. This influences both economic and environmental bottom lines. Another area of concern are ballast tanks as these can be breeding grounds for invasive species; a far greater challenge deep water vessels compared to brown water work boats.

Fouling-control coatings include Anti-Fouling (AF) coatings and Foul-Release (FR) coatings. The former rely on biocides; the latter decreases adhesion strength through the mechanical properties. AF coatings typically are sacrificial coatings. They gradually wear off to expose fresh layers of biocide agents. But we must also take into account the harm done to environment by these coatings, from surface preparation efforts to paint application. Use of various coatings must be balanced against the other downstream consequences such as fouling, increased GHG emissions, etc.

It is of paramount importance that we know a vessel’s operating profile, because only after that is it possible to build a system that provides a five-year anti-fouling performance. Software can be used along with the operating profile to calculate film thickness. In this manner, the AF coating can be tailored to the needs of the customer, providing a much better fuel economy by controlling the roughness of the hull.

Another factor that we must consider is the method used to clean the ship’s hull. The cleaning schedule and methods depend upon an intimate knowledge of fouling processes. The adhesion of marine life to the ship hull depends on the type of coating as well as the species. The cleaning method chosen will depend on the degree of fouling or bio-fouling and the potential for the cleaning method to damage the various layers of coating. There will typically be several cleaning cycles before a new coating needs to be applied.

To conclude, perhaps the best investment that ship owners or vessel operators can make is to consult with a hull performance specialist who can advise them on what are the best practices of maintaining his/her vessel based on the climate and working conditions that the boat is under.

This can also help in ensuring that a coating is applied according to manufacturer specifications and a hull cleaning regimen is also developed that maximizes the life of the vessel and also its operating efficiency. The policies recommended and the maintenance work thus done will most definitely be recovered in fuel savings, reduced downtime and longer vessel ‘up-time.’

To this end, with an unparalleled blend of expertise and technology, Alphard has been successfully carrying out Diving & Underwater services since a year now. Our diving managers & Supervisors are commercial divers with over 25 years of diving experience, who add extensive amount of value to our client’s needs. We have our own dedicated Dive boats which are fully equipped with diving spreads on board which requires no loading time. More details of our services can be found at –


LNG Bunkering the future as shipping industry looks to environment friendly alternatives

The LNG bunkering market is expected to witness a CAGR of 62.5% over the next 5 years, and is projected to reach $24 billion by 2023. The primary factors driving the growth of LNG bunkering market are increase in demand in order to reduce the carbon footprint of vessels, stringent emissions policy in the shipping industry and the evergreen search for a cost effective alternative fuel; not to mention the government floating initiatives to support such green companies.

Advantages for LNG are manifold, first of all as a fuel it releases lesser amounts of pollutant when compared to the more traditional fuels (fuel oil and marine diesel oil) due to the negligible amount of sulfur content, and its combustion producing lower nitrogen oxide. The bunker fuel is primarily used by the marine vessels such as bulk and general cargo vessels, tankers, container ships, offshore port vessels, and ferries. But there several obstacles that the LNG bunkering market is facing, including the high initial infrastructure development cost and, the regulatory landscape and competition from alternative fuels.

As per Market Watch, in 2017, Singapore the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) commenced its LNG bunkering pilot project. Under the project, the MPA has provided various companies with grants of up to $2 million per LNG-powered vessel constructed.

In 2016, the International Maritime Organization notified that the effective date for the reduction of marine fuel Sulphur will be 2020. After that there’ll be a new worldwide cap, ships will have to use marine fuels with a Sulphur content of no more than 0.5% Sulphur against the current limit of 3.5% Sulphur in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which are the primary reason behind global warming and climate change.

The LNG bunkering market will be dominated by ferries and offshore service vessel during the forecast period of 2017-2023. Ship-to-ship LNG bunkering market is expected to witness a CAGR of 56.0% by 2023 owing to its quick transfer operation.

Asia-Pacific region backed by high marine trade is expected to grow at the fastest rate during the forecast period. The LNG bunkering market in North America is expected to be benefited owing to the decline in natural gas price in the region

The African region and Middle East, especially Qatar is expected to make a good business in the LNG bunkering market owing to the abundance of LNG in the region.

The key companies dealing in LNG bunkering market are Skangas, Gazprom Neft PJSC, Royal Dutch Shell Gasum, KLAW LNG, Korea Gas Corporation, ENN Energy Prima LNG, Fjord Line, and EagleLNG.

be 2

Illegal immigrants attack Coast Guard patrol boat off Tunis

A fishing vessel harboring Illegal immigrants of Tunisian, Congolese and Ivorian descent was intercepted by a Coast Guard patrol boat on 18th August off Tunis, in their attempt to make way to Italy. When the coast guard vessel ordered them to stop, the immigrants started throwing dangerous Molotov cocktails at the coast guard.

But as luck would have it, the migrants ended up setting their own vessel on fire. Four Tunisians were arrested along with eight migrants from the Ivory Coast and two from Congo and one of them was hospitalized for burns. Tragically enough 4 of those 14 migrants lost their life in the process while the Coast Guard vessel sustained damages.

It’s no surprise that a growing number of Tunisians are choosing to leave their homeland behind and take on the risk of going across the Mediterranean in search of a better lifestyle in Europe.

In the first half of 2018, nearly 2,660 people were arrested in Tunisia during attempts to make the sea crossing, compared to number amounting to only 564 during the same course of time last year. Several deadly shipwrecks have taken place in recent months, including one on 3 June that killed 87 people.

This is a serious issue – imagine tens or hundreds of migrants, picked up by a vessel and creating a ruckus if the ship is refused entry by a port or stuck at sea for indefinite periods of time. Imagine if the ship attempts to disembark them at a place other than their proposed destination. What if they try to raid the on-board supplies (food, medicine) and pose threats when refused? Imagine it’s a tanker in load, or dry cargo ship loaded with dangerous goods (any given container ship has containers with hazmat on board).

Any incident, intended or not can cause huge losses in terms of life and property. Therefore, all parties who are propagating merchant vessels to take part in “migrants rescue”, are waiting for disaster to strike and that too sooner rather than later. Merchant ship must be officially banned from “migrants rescue” operations, as Law of the Sea has nothing to do with “migrants rescue”.


Tanker missing off Gabon coast with 17 sailors on-board

A tanker is missing off the coast of Gabon with 17 Georgian sailors on board, officials said on 21st August 2018.

The ship “disappeared” from tracking screens on August 14, the source said, while regional military officials said the potential search area was between the Gabonese coast and the Sao Tome and Principe archipelago.

Specialist websites list the 121-metre ship, the Pantelena, as a 7 000-tonne, 12-year-old dual-purpose oil or chemical tanker.

The vessel is Panamanian-flagged and owned by a Greek company, Lotus Shipping Co. Ltd.

The Georgian foreign ministry in Tbilissi, in a statement issued last Friday, said there were concerns for 17 Georgian sailors onboard and a search operation was being conducted with the help of the British maritime authorities.

Gabon lies on the southern part of the Gulf of Guinea – the great bend in the coastline of West African – where pirates are a infamous problem for shipping.

The Pantelena “turned off its locator beacon,” a device that tracks a vessel’s position by satellite, a regional military official said.

“The first thing that pirates do when they board a ship is to cut off this beacon.”

A crew member aboard a ship sailing between Libreville and Port-Gentil, Gabon’s economic hub, told AFP: “We received a distress message over the radio and we alerted the Gabonese navy.”

A Gabonese navy official confirmed, “We received an alert… about the Pantelena, but we didn’t have enough information to intervene.”

In Sao Tome and Principe, which is located about 260km from Gabon, the commander of the local coastguard, Joao Idalecio, said it had dispatched a patrol vessel with a crew of 30 to search for the tanker.

In February, a Panama-registered tanker, the MT Marine Express with 13 500 tonnes of gasoline was seized with its crew as it was anchored off Benin. The ship and crew were freed several days later.

Last month, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said that its specialist piracy reporting centre had recorded 107 incidents worldwide in the first six months of 2018.

“All 25 crew kidnappings reported this year have occurred over six incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, highlighting the higher risks in this area,” the IMB said.

However, the true number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea is believed to be “significantly higher,” its report added.


A group of 16 out of 20 fishermen missing and Feared Dead after Piracy attack off the Atlantic coast of Suriname


“We are still searching the area with family members of the fishermen, hoping for a miracle”, said Mark Lall, president of the Fisheries Collective Association. “People are afraid. It is not the first time that so many boats have been attacked in one go, but I have the impression that most of the deaths will now be regretted at once”, he said.

On Friday, 27th April Pirates attacked the boats allegedly beating the fishermen with machetes before forcing them to jump into the sea.  Some of the victims had batteries tied to their legs to weigh them down.

Members of the Fisheries Collective Association along with the Coast Guard and police vessels are searching for the missing men and the pirates since the attack late Friday.

The Surinamese daily newspaper, reported that the pirates boarded the four fishing boats on Friday evening, bringing all of the 20 fishermen under attack. The Guyana Chronicle newspaper reported on Tuesday that the boats were manned by Guyanese nationals, four of men managed to swim ashore.  Two were reportedly taken off their boats with head injuries, while two others were fished out of the water by other fishermen. All four remain hospitalized.

So far, the case is not entirely clear. However, according to the media reports all 16 missing fishermen are feared dead.

Our Diving & Underwater Service


Alphard Diving & Underwater Services

We freshly invaded Hull cleaning and Underwater Inspection services. Our diving managers & Supervisors are commercial divers with over 25 years of diving experience. Alphard Offshore provides diving services of top standards. Following are our Core strengths;

  • We have our own dedicated Dive boats which are fully equipped (Alphard 7, Alphard 16)
  • Equipped with our own DIVING SPREADS on board which requires NO loading time
  • A Panel of 3 Diving Men with Surfaced Supplied Air which are provided for the working diver
  • 2 TV screens for Diving supervisor to monitor the diving activities carried out on each boat
  • 1 TV screen for Client representative in a cabin with air conditioning and comfortable seats to watch the diving work for any kind of inspection
  • We have our own HPU and pair of powerful brush cards from Piccard
  • Special Brushes for use on Silicon Paint
  • 4 KMB band Mask 18 to tackle Hull cleaning – CCTV inspections & Propeller Polishing to Rupert “A” grade
  • HSE part 2 certified Diving Supervisor with over 1000 dives logged
  • HSE part 1 certified Lead Diver
  • Dedicated diving operational team to manage from on shore
  • Class approved with ABS, LR, DNV-GL, NKK, BV and for In Water Survey inspection (UWILD) we are in process to get approval with IR, KR, and RINA
  • Always finding ways to improve our services with client`s detailed feedback
  • Tug Inspections, maintenance & salvage in water removal of wire chain and line from running gear
  • Class (UWIL Inspection) and vessel inspection, maintenance, salvage, pressure/patching and shipping
  • Hull cleaning of any kind of fouling condition (laid up)
  • Loss Anchor search (Anchorage & OPL)
  • Bow thruster cleaning and polishing
  • Side sonar scan and recovery
  • Cutting & welding services
  • Propeller polishing
  • Sea chest cleaning
  • Hydrographic surveys

For further mail us at: or
log on to: