YEMEN, RISK: SHIP SECURITY AS A RESULT OF THE CIVIL WAR IN YEMEN

Macro of Yeman on a globe, narrow depth of field

Rea Sea / Gulf of Aden

In June 2017 the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), which aims to protect shipping from terrorism and piracy, issued a statement saying it was stepping up its activities in the region, due to “recent attacks against merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Bab-el-Mandeb”.

It mentioned two attacks in particular, both thought to be linked to the Yemen conflict. The first was the assault against the LNG tanker GALICIA SPIRIT in October 2016 and the second the attack on the oil tanker MUSKIE in May 2017. Both attacks, whilst unsuccessful, involved the use of high speed boats and “significant amount of explosives”.

A maritime security notice issued by United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO) around the same time said: “We assess that it is highly unlikely that international shipping is being directly targeted [by combatants in the Yemen conflict] but there remains a risk of misidentification and miscalculation.”

Incidents that have been reported since then include:

In April 2018 a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, claimed an oil tanker had come under attack by Houthi rebels, in international waters, west of Hodeidah.

In May 2018 there was an explosion on a vessel carrying wheat in the Hodeidah waiting area. Rebel sources said the ship had been struck by a missile; Saudi-led coalition forces said the explosion was from the inside to the outside.

In June 2018 a vessel that had been delivering food aid to the rebel held port of Hodeidah was reported by the World Food Programme to have come under fire from unidentified gunman in a skiff.

Hodeidah

Yemen’s Houthi rebels warned on 9 January 2018, that they would block shipping traffic if Saudi-led coalition forces continued their advance on the Yemeni port of Hodeidah.

The warning, published by a Houthi controlled news agency, came from Saleh al-Samad, a senior Houthi leader.“If the aggressors keep pushing towards Hodeidah and if the political solution hits [a] wall, there are some strategic choices that will be taken […..] including blocking international navigation in the Red Sea,” he was quoted as saying.

The port of Hodeidah, which has been in Houthi hands throughout the conflict, has been a crucial entry point for fuel, food and humanitarian aid and supplies.

In June 2018, Yemeni forces – backed by UAE and Saudi Arabia – had advanced to within 10 km of the port. However the port has continued to operate. As of early July 2018, the UN is trying to broker a deal to prevent fighting at, and the closure of, the port of Hodeidah.

As well as the security risk at Hodeidah, there are commercial risks such as delay and disputes arising from problems associated with the vessel clearance procedures. Additionally, financial difficulties (for example, traders having to seek credit outside of Yemen) increase the importance of conducting commercial due diligence.

ASSESSMENT AND ANALYSIS

All ships sailing through the High Risk Area (HRA) – which includes parts of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden – should register their intentions with the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA).

The US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) has set up a Maritime Security Transit Corridor (MSTC) in the Gulf of Aden and Southern Red Sea region. The purpose of the corridor is “to provide a recommended merchant traffic route around which Naval Forces can focus their presence and surveillance efforts. The CMF recommends “that all vessels use the MSTC to benefit from military presence and surveillance.”

Vessels should follow BMP5 and the BIMCO / ICS / INTERTANKO complementary guidance ‘Interim Guidance on Maritime Security in the Southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb (Published 25 January 2018).

Vessels trading to Hodeidah should conduct both additional security and commercial due diligence, including obtaining the very latest information and employing risk assessments, as well as keeping insurers advised and seeking their advice.

UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM) clearance is required for vessels calling at Salif and Hodeidah.

Vessels calling at Gulf of Aden ports require Ministry of Transport and Coalition Forces clearance.

Application for permission may take up to two weeks before ships are cleared and granted permission for entry at Yemeni ports.

The situation is fluid and the threats to shipping can change rapidly. Ship operators should carry out detailed risk assessments for each voyage into the area using the latest threat information.

 

Reported by Gray Page

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Maritime Cyber Reporting

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All shipping companies face cyber threats, regardless of the location of their operations or the size of their assets.

Clearly, then, it would be advantageous to the industry to have a shared forum for reporting cyber attacks.
To those who fear a public relations nightmare for their brand or business: the forum would be anonymous. It would not name those affected by an attack.

To those who cannot see a benefit: What about the safety of your crew, your vessel and the general public?

To those who do not see a business rationale: A forum would allow the industry as a whole to more quickly follow cyber criminal tactics and find strategies to mitigate them. Costs to address cyber crimes would drop for everyone.

Frankly, I do not see an argument against the idea.

In fact, calls for a forum of this kind are routine by now, and I have personally heard shipowners, class societies and organisations such as Intertanko advocate for a shared forum in the past.

Just this month, two major tanker operators at Riviera Maritime Media’s European Maritime Cyber Risk Management Summit expressed their concerns and summarised the cyber challenges they currently face, giving yet another call for the shipping industry to have a recognised but informal reporting platform.

It is essential that shipping gets to grips with the growing number and sophistication of cyber threats and that owners can learn from the problems faced by others in the industry, they said.

As one tanker IT manager explained: larger shipping companies have the resources for tackling these cyber threats head-on and, and smaller operators will likely find comprehensive cyber security measures difficult to fund. These businesses were advised to prioritise funding security such as firewalls, antivirus software, passwords and training for crew.

So why not use the intelligence being gathered by the big players to benefit all?

If a catalogue of incidents and the learnings taken from them was on hand by way of an informal cyber attack reporting platform, small players could focus their investments on prevention and the industry as a whole would be safer as a result.

In that outcome, everyone wins.

Source: marinemec.com

Saudi Arabia and UAE announce plan to protect Shipping Lane to Yemen’s Hodeidah Port

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Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced a five-point aid plan for Yemen’s Hodeidah port and surrounding areas on Wednesday, after a Saudi-led alliance of Arab states launched an attack on Yemen’s Houthi-held main port city.

As part of the plan, the two coalition states aim to establish a shipping lane to Hodeidah from the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, and Jizan, a city in southern Saudi Arabia, officials told a news conference in Riyadh.

They will also distribute food, provide medical supplies, equipment and staff to hospitals, sustain electrical stations and provide economic support, they said.

“We have several ships stationed, and we have storage capacity very close to Hodeidah fully stocked up,” Reem al-Hashimy, the UAE minister of state for international cooperation, told Reuters in Riyadh.

“We have as well planes that are out of the UAE that are ready to be flown in once the situation allows for that,” she said.

Speaking on Saudi state-owned al-Ekhbariyah TV, coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said two aid ships provided by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were waiting in waters near the port.

The plan will be carried out by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center and the UAE Red Crescent, with Hashimy later telling reporters the UAE would use its military base in Eritrea for transporting aid.

The assault marks the first time the Arab states have tried to capture a heavily defended major city since joining the war three years ago against the Iran-aligned Houthis, who control Yemen’s most populated areas, including the capital, Sanaa.

The operation, which began after a three-day deadline set by the UAE for the Houthis to quit the port, comes at the risk of worsening the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.

Coalition states say they will try to keep the port running and can ease the crisis once they seize it by lifting import restrictions they have imposed.

But they accused the Houthis of planting mines that could prolong that effort, they added.

“If the Houthis don’t damage the port by mining it, you have all the assurances that the coalition forces will not damage the port,” the UAE’s ambassador to the UK, Sulaiman al-Mazroui, told Abu Dhabi-linked newspaper The National.

“The information we have is that some of this infrastructure has been mined,” he added.

Hashimy said the UAE was readying replacement cranes that could be provided if physical infrastructure in the port is damaged.

Coalition forces have already begun to disarm mines planted by the Houthis on their route into Hodeidah, Malki told Ekhbariyah.

by Reuters

 

A vessel delivering food aid to Yemen has been attacked by gunman while waiting at an anchorage off the port of Hodeidah. The VOS THEIA was being used by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

Hodeidah map

BACKGROUND

A vessel delivering food aid to Yemen has been attacked by gunman while waiting at an anchorage off the port of Hodeidah.

The incident happened on June 3, some 32 nautical miles (nm) from the coast.

The VOS THEIA was being used by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

Reports say it had unloaded its cargo in Hodeidah and was waiting in the anchorage for permission from the Saudi-led military coalition to leave.

A spokesperson for the WFP said an unidentified group in a skiff had opened fire on the vessel.

Some reports said the shots started a fire on the VOS THEIA but the spokeswomen, in a statement to Reuters, said the vessel and crew were safe and that there were no obvious signs of damage.

ASSESSMENT AND ANALYSIS

This was the second account of an attack on June 3 on a vessel off the Yemeni port of Hodeidah. It is not clear if the two reports were describing the same incident.

The maritime security information provider, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), had earlier carried a report that a skiff had fired on an unnamed merchant vessel 50 nm from the port.

Both reports came against the background of Yemen’s ongoing civil war.

The Saudi-led military coalition has been drawing in on Hodeidah, although it is unclear if it intends to take it.

Rebel Houthi forces, who hold the port, have threatened to block shipping in the Red Sea if Hodeidah is directly threatened.

Waters off Yemen’s Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are considered a High Risk Area (HRA).

The situation is fluid and threats to shipping can change rapidly.

Ship operators should carry out detailed risk assessments for each voyage into the area using the latest threat information.

Useful sources include MSC-HOA, NATO Shipping Centre, UKMTO, MARLO and IMB.

 

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page

NIGERIA – Intruders Board Bulk Carrier

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BACKGROUND

Two intruders were spotted on the forecastle of a bulk carrier in Lagos Anchorage, Nigeria.

They were seen by an armed security guard who fired a warning shot.

The intruders fled and a search of the vessel showed that some ship stores were missing.

The incident happened early in the morning of June 3 during the hours of darkness.

The intruders had used a hook attached to a rope to clamber on-board.

ASSESSMENT AND ANALYSIS

Vessels visiting Lagos should take precautions against intruders.

Among other things, crew members should maintain a good visual and radar watch for the approach of small craft.

Other precautions should include illuminating the ship’s sides and securing and stowing away ladders and ropes.

 

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said seven suspected pirates in a skiff drew alongside the tanker.

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BACKGROUND

There has been an attempted boarding of a product tanker in the Gulf of Guinea.

The incident happened shortly after midnight on May 22, some 140 nautical miles (nm) south of the Togolese port of Lome.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said seven suspected pirates in a skiff drew alongside the tanker, which at the time was drifting.

An alarm was raised and the skiff was seen to move away. No crew members were hurt.

The master of the product tanker reported a vessel in the area which could have been acting as a mother ship for pirate operations.

ASSESSMENT AND ANALYSIS

Attacks on shipping in Gulf of Guinea continue with concerning regularity.

All waters in the Gulf, particularly off Nigeria, should be seen as dangerous.

Vessels are advised to keep strict watches, especially at night.

They are also advised to take ‘hardening’ measures and to carefully monitor the approach of unknown skiffs.

Attacks can take place inshore and well outside coastal waters.

Ships should avoid slow steaming and minimise time spent in anchorages.

When under attack, evasive action and the use of citadels have sometimes proved effective countermeasures.

 

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page

Indonesia, armed robbers board bulker in Anchorage

BACKGROUND

There have been two reports of robbers boarding vessels off Indonesia.

In the most serious incident three robbers armed with knives boarded a bulk carrier at Merak Anchorage in Banten Province.

The incident happened during the hours of darkness early on May 20.

As reported by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) the robbers threatened a crew member, entered the ship’s engine room, stole ship’s spares and escaped.

The other incident occurred off the Indonesian island of Great Karimun, some 30 kilometres southwest of Singapore.

The IMB report said six robbers boarded a tanker while it was underway. The time was shortly after midnight, also on May 20.

They were spotted by a crew member and the ship’s master raised the alarm.

The robbers fled and are believed to have left empty-handed.

ASSESSMENT AND ANALYSIS

Thieves regularly target ships in Indonesian ports and anchorages.

They board ships either alone or in gangs and generally operate at night. They are often armed with knives.

It is rare for crew members to be assault and in most cases intruders flee when confronted.

Ships are advised to use patrolled-anchorages whenever possible and to maintain heightened vigilance both while underway and at anchor or at berth.
Reported by North and Gray Page

Cyber Security – Invisible Pirates?

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Until recently the biggest concern in terms of an attack on shipping was from armed pirates scaling the hull to either kidnap the crew or steal the cargo. Now there is a new much more insidious threat – that of the cyber-attack with the ability to do everything from stealing data to changing the course of a ship, and possibly combining with traditional pirates to steal the cargo as well.

Cyber security may be right at the top of the international agenda. Although, like most things cyber – shipping has not taken it particularly seriously until recently. The International Maritime Bureau warned that shipping is becoming the “next playground for hackers”. It has gone from being an issue that was barely mentioned in shipping circles two years ago to one that is now at the top of the agenda for senior executives across the industry.

The US’ Global Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the nation’s Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and lawmakers for failing to address cyber security despite the fact that its ports handle at least $1.3trn worth of cargo every year. “The operations of these ports are supported by information and communication systems, which are susceptible to cyber-related threats,” the report stated.

The report went on to highlight the possible directions from any given cyber-threat could spring, listing hackers – who “break into networks for the thrill of the challenge, bragging rights in the hacker community, revenge, stalking, monetary gain, and political activism,” and who could “download attack scripts and protocols from the Internet and launch them against victim sites”, alongside organised crime syndicates, rival logistics firms, disgruntled employees, other nations, and – of course – terrorists, who could “destroy, incapacitate, or exploit critical infrastructures in order to threaten national security, cause mass casualties, weaken the economy, and damage public morale.”

“Until the Coast Guard completes a thorough assessment of cyber risks in the maritime environment, the ability of stakeholders to appropriately plan and allocate resources to protect ports and other maritime facilities will be limited.”

Source: Seatrade Magazine

Piracy attack in Nigerian waters makes it to the headlines again, 11 Seafarers kidnapped!

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Beginning of this week, morning hours of 21st April 2018 kidnapping of the Dutch Freighter crew off Nigeria was reported.  11 crew members went missing, this might be the largest crew kidnapping off Nigeria in recent years.

The general cargo vessel FWN Rapide was attacked and boarded by pirates who then escaped with 11 crew members from the ship out of 14 aboard. The cook hid for two days while the two remaining crew managed to get the ship underway and were reported safe.

Netherlands-based vessel owners ForestWave, said the vessel had come under attack while it prepared to enter Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Bight of Bonny en route from Takoradi, Ghana.

Statement as of 23rd April 2018:

“ForestWave would like to stress that the safety of our seafarers is our absolute priority… We are currently in close contact with the authorities and taking professional advice in order to secure the earliest release of those that are currently being held. Together with our local representatives in the countries of origin of our valued seafarers we are keeping the families of the FWN Rapide crew informed about the situation”

The news is very alarming; kidnapping of most of the crew is turning into a new Nigerian piracy trend. Sailing in Nigerian waters is becoming more dangerous, than ever.

Fourth attack on a vessel underway off Nigeria in less than two months!

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In the early hours of April 7, 2018 a speed boat with armed pirates boarded a bulk carrier underway off the coast of Nigeria as reported by The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

The incident happened 41 nautical miles (nm) south-southeast of Brass.

An alarm was raised and the entire crew rallied to the ship’s citadel. The pirates boarded the vessel and opened fire on the ship’s equipment and accommodation. Before escaping they stole cash and property.

The Navy sent a unit to board the ship and escort the vessel to a safe port following the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre liaison with the Nigerian Navy.

All crew members were reported to be safe.

Earlier this year on February 24, Pirates attempted to board a container ship while it was underway 50 nautical miles (nm) south of Bonny Island.

Three weeks later, on March 16, at 36 nm off Bonny Island a general cargo ship was boarded by armed pirates. Also, a tanker off Bonny Island came under fire from a speed boat the same day.

All waters in and off Nigeria and in the wider Gulf of Guinea has been announced to be seen as dangerous. All vessels are advised to keep strict lookouts.

The latest attack, and other recent examples, shows the importance of security on board to fight such unfortunate incidence.