25 April 2015
In the media | 23 Apr 2015

Obangame Express 2015: Two steps forward. One step back.

Center for International Maritime Security

Adm Biekro, Ghana Navy Chief of Staff (Photo: US Navy)

Dirk Steffen, Director of Maritime Security at Risk Intelligence, has written an article for Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) about this year’s OBANGAME EXPRESS exercise.

Obangame Express is an annual maritime security exercise hosted by the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) with participation by Western and Central African states. This year it took place off the coasts of West African states between Côte d’Ivoire and Angola. Since its inception in 2011, the Obangame Express exercise has grown from involving only nine nations to involve 23 nations this year, including 12 Gulf of Guinea countries.

Risk Intelligence’s Dirk Steffen observed this year’s Obangame Express exercise as part of his deployment with the German Navy. For CIMSEC, he explains how this year’s exercise was particularly interesting: it was the first exercise to rehearse and test the new structures and procedures provided by the recently ratified Yaoundé Code of Conduct.

The Yaoundé Code of Conduct obliges Western and Central African member states to co-operate on preventing and prosecuting all forms of maritime crime and illicit activities at sea and share information between each other. By providing an information sharing and co-ordination structure, it should allow countries from ECOWAS and ECCAS to communicate multilaterally on maritime challenges.

Obangame Express 2015 was a testing ground for the new interregional command, control and communications arrangements. Evaluating this in his article, Dirk Steffen describes how results, on a tactical level, were mixed: ranging from pleasant surprises to disappointments. Nonetheless, Dirk Steffen considers Obangame Express to be a valuable exercise in the sense that it offers an insight onto multiple aspects of maritime security operations in West Africa; their progress as well as the absence of it. Obangame Express provides an annual benchmark, registering and informing about change in any direction.

To learn more about the assessment of the West and Central African navies during the exercise, read the full article on http://cimsec.org/obangame-express-2015-two-steps-forward-one-step-back/16227

In the media | 22 Apr 2015

The Danish Frigate and flexible operations: thinking through an LCS alternative

Second Line of Defense

Iver Huitfeldt F361 (Photo: Danish Defence)

The Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) are a unique class of new ships that are being built and deployed as hybrids between a Frigate and a Fast Patrol Boat. There has been voiced much concern around building a unique class of ships as these require a unique class of mission modules. On the contrary, the trend nowadays is to build frigates that have capabilities for a variety of combat operations.

At the Airpower Symposium held in Copenhagen earlier this month journalist Robbin Laird and Editor Ed Timperlake from Second Line of Defense Forum sat down with CEO and founder of Risk Intelligence, Hans Tino Hansen, to talk about the introduction of the LCS in relation to the Danish Frigate.

In the Danish Frigate, the new Danish Iver Huitfelt class of frigates constitutes an example of a recently acquired frigate that is leveraged to operate in a variety of missions. The acquirement of the ships are based on a vision of a sound frigate that can evolve over time, Hans Tino Hansen explains: “Earlier, the Danish navy had small and fast ships along with submarines to operate in the Baltic. After the end of the Cold War, thinking moved to having larger ships able of more a wider-range of operations”.

The Danish frigate now provides command and control for a variety of missiles: “We can buy missiles not even yet developed which use this launch tube, and we can evolve the C2 to use these missiles in a broader engagement as well,” Hans Tino Hansen informs. “Two frigates can more or less cover Danish airspace… and they can provide area coverage for the Baltics.” With the Danish Air Force not having missile defense capabilities any longer, the frigates thus possess a potentially central role in a future missile defense system for the region.

In relation to the possible future use of LCS, Hans Tino Hansen concludes, “They really fall between the classes of ships we use, and the various sea states in which we have to operate. I can see perhaps their value in UN missions or very low conflict spectrum settings, but we simply do not have enough ships to build a ship for the lower end of the warfighting spectrum… The LCS seems more like the corvettes, which the British used, in the last war to provide convoy support. They had limited weapons, primarily for convoy defense and could not hunt submarines”.

Read the full interview on Second Line of Defense’s webpage: http://www.sldinfo.com/the-danish-frigate-and-flexible-operations-thinking-through-an-lcs-alternative/ ;

Briefing | 05 Apr 2015

Buhari wins Nigerian election - implications for maritime security

MaRisk briefing

Muhammadu Buhari has emerged as the winner in Nigeria’s presidential elections. The defeated incumbent Goodluck Jonathan is stepping aside in good grace – or so it seems.

What are the implications of this result for maritime security in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea in the short and in the long term? Read a snapshot analysis of the situation in Risk Intelligence’s briefing paper “Buhari wins Nigeria’s presidential elections: implications for maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea”.

This assessment was prepared for MaRisk, Risk Intelligence's maritime threat monitoring system, and has now been made available for a wider audience.

Please click on the top right bar to download the PDF. 

In the Media | 31 Mar 2015

Unlikely that the Yemen Conflict will close the Bab-El-Mandeb Strait

Søfart

The passage between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden is too important for the threat of a longer sea route south of Africa to be Risk Intelligence informs the Danish maritime magazine Søfart, 31 March.

In a conflict developing by the day, it can be hard to take stock. The unrest in Yemen is currently a great source of worry, especially to the oil industry, who fear a closure of the narrow Bab-el-Mandeb strait is widespread. Such closure would imply that merchant vessels can no longer use the shortcut through the Suez Canal, but will be forced to take the longer route south of Africa.

Risk Intelligence estimates, however, that even with all ports in Yemen being officially shut down at the moment, there is no reason to believe that the maritime hub of the Bab-el-Mandeb strait will be blocked. Yemen simply profits too well from keeping the international waters open for sailing, CEO of Risk Intelligence, Hans Tino Hansen explains: “A great deal of the LNG-transport from Yemen LNG in Balhaf happens through the Suez Canal, and any future government will be dependent of these revenues, and thus none of the two sides of the conflict has an interest in destroying this”. This fact makes Risk Intelligence conclude that while there has been talks of blockade of the strait between Yemen and Djibouti, this is highly unlikely on the short term, and will probably only present itself as a possibility if the conflict in Yemen leads to war breaking out between international actors.

Despite reports of Djibouti having had its port capacity strongly tested, there is almost no effect of the Yemen crisis on international transit sailing through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden right now, Risk Intelligence finally tells maritime media Søfart. Recognizing the constant developments of the volatile situation in Yemen, however, Risk Intelligence has upgraded their security updates with a weekly report dedicated to the security situation in Yemen and around, constructed in parts by private sources in Yemen. 

In the media | 26 Mar 2015

Yemen shuts down all shipping

Søfart

A Shia uprising in Yemen has caused Saudi-led forces to initiate bombings on Yemeni territory, and this has resulted in Yemen shutting down all of its sea ports, Hans Tino Hansen, CEO at Risk Intelligence, tells the Danish maritime magazine, Søfart.

The shutdown has major implications for all ships calling Yemeni ports, and the uprising in Yemen has thus reached a new level for maritime security risk, Hans Tino Hansen warns.
Whereas the assessment of Risk Intelligence in February was that the Yemeni ports of Aden and Hodeidah were still relatively safe, the recommendation from Risk Intelligence is now that one should make sure to stay completely up to date on what is happening in Yemen, as the conflict according to Hans Tino Hansen can quickly change directions.

For the full article in Danish, see the link below (subscription needed): 

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