Dirk Steffen, Director Maritime Security with BIBIANA (Dirk Steffen)
Easter Sunday held a special surprise find for Risk Intelligence’s Director Maritime Security, Dirk Steffen, while he was travelling along the Cameroonian coast: the former Nigerian pirate vessel BIBIANA beached and abandoned near Kribi.
BIBIANA was part of a two-vessel pirate long-distance tanker hijacking operation in September and October 2014. The vessel departed from Nigeria around 27 September 2014 heading south through Cameroonian and Equatoguinean waters and on to Gabon. Based on reliable information, Risk Intelligence began issuing warnings to its subscribers of MaRisk from 29 September onwards, tracking the vessel’s progress south to a position offshore Port Gentil, where the BIBIANA experienced technical problems. The pirate mother vessel subsequently headed back north in the company of the small tanker SANKOFA, which was meant to be used for the stolen cargo in the planned operation.
The mission was eventually aborted, although the criminals launched an opportunistic attack against the ferry SAN MIGUEL near Equatorial Guinea on 5 October. Although the attackers failed to board the vessel, it galvanised the Cameroonian military into action and on 8 October 2014 the BIBIANA was intercepted by the Cameroonian Batallion d’Intervention Rapide (BIR) near Kribi. 21 Nigerian suspects were arrested; an unknown number of suspects escaped on the SANKOFA.
(Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf with ports in PortRisk)
Risk Intelligence has Friday 8 January 2016 published a short assessment of the current conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia with three scenarios for possible developments. Each scenario has a section on the impact on shipping and maritime operations.
The likely scenario that the souring in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran will continue at the diplomatic and commercial relations level at least in the short term. This will have minimal impact on the regional maritime security environment, although broader security processes in Syria and Yemen will be affected. Indeed, some escalation in these areas is about as likely as not, perpetuating armed conflict – particularly in Yemen – which does have broader regional implications. Internal security in Saudi Arabia might also be affected, increasing the likelihood of sectarian violence.
Direct naval conflict or even low-level harassment of commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf cannot be ruled out, but is assessed as unlikely currently. Iran has limited if any interests in escalating the conflict in this area and has a broader agenda that involves a re-setting of relations with the US and Europe (and the lifting of sanctions) and pursuing its strategic interests in, particularly, Iraq and Syria. At the same time, Saudi Arabia does not have an interest in escalating the conflict any further or if it does happen the capability of running two armed conflicts at the same time.
The report can be downloaded below
South East Asia
Special Projects Manager, Karsten von Hoesslin, of Risk Intelligence, features in this two part special report by Al Jazeera on the Pirates of the Malacca Straight. The report focusses on the rise of piracy in the waters of Southeast Asia, where, so far, this year, the number of reported incidents has already exceeded the total of 2013. Karsten von Hoesslin provides an insight into the incentives and trade of the pirates.
The Al Jazeera report can be watched here; part 1, part 2.
The current practice of using Nigerian Navy (and Nigerian security forces in general) is coming under review by the Buhari presidency. The past and current Navy Chiefs of Staff have endeavoured to curtail activities which they feel is hollowing out the Navy’s capabilities without providing adequate returns. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) governs the conditions under which private security companies may access Nigerian Navy personnel.
In a nutshell: articles 5 and 6 of the Memorandum stipulate that any vessels upon which Nigerian Navy personnel is embarked must be "approved and inspected" by the Nigerian Navy, capable of taking a mounted weapon and be entered in the Nigerian fleet list. Only then is it allowed to contract navy personnel to man these vessels. It appears likely that the legal review undertaken by the current presidency will focus on compliance with the MoU.
The vast majority of MoU holders in Nigeria violate these stipulation by embarking navy personnel directly on client ships. There has been misleading guidance to the effect that the following is adequate in order to provide armed security in Nigerian waters:
- A Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps license (for guard companies)
- An MoU in the name of the PMSC
- A NIMASA license to operate as a Guard Force Security company in the Maritime Sector
- A Certificate of incorporation in Nigeria
- Evidence of an expatriate quota
Whilst this documentation is necessary to operate as a maritime security company, it does not in itself provide authorisation for embarking Nigerian Navy personnel on merchant vessels. Furthermore, the NSCDC license is reserved for unarmed guard services, hence all authorisation to operate hinges on compliance with the MoU. It is incorrect to use the term “legal”, since no legislation in Nigeria exists that regulates armed maritime security activity. Using authorisations other than that provided by the Navy Chief of Staff (through the MoU) and failure to comply with the stipulations of the MoU creates the risk of detentions and fines for ship operators.
Lastly, it should be remembered that the embarkation of armed security in the configuration of three to four man teams with light weapons provides little to no deterrence for those attackers which pose the greatest risk. Numerous firefights with casualties and boardings including kidnappings have demonstrated the increased risk by using embarked Nigerian security forces, e.g.:
- PYXIS DELTA (4 February 2013, Lagos) – one crewmember was killed in the crossfire between embarked security forces and attackers.
- SP BRUSSELS (29 April 2014, Niger Delta) – one crewmember was killed, one severely injured when two Nigerian Police Force embarked on the ship failed to prevent a boarding by pirates.
- SEA STERLING (26 August 2014, Niger Delta) – no casualties, but attackers managed to briefly board the vessel against the resistance of two Nigerian Navy ratings before a Nigerian Navy patrol vessel appeared on the scene.
- SEA VOYAGER (5 November 2014, Niger Delta) – possibly two naval ratings killed or injured when armed attackers boarded the ship. The soldiers fled into the citadel.
- JASCON 24 (23 January 2015, Niger Delta) – one naval rating was killed on the vessel which was actually functioning as a “security vessel” for an offshore oil & gas operation. The attackers managed to board the vessel and engaged the soldiers in a firefight. Two of the four soldiers embarked on the vessel fled into the citadel.
- KALAMOS (3 February 2015, Niger Delta) – one crewmember was killed by a Nigerian Navy rating who disobeyed the master’s order to hold fire during a hostage stand-off on the ship’s bridge. The attackers had boarded the ship undetected by the crew or the security detachment.
This guidance has just been published on Risk Intelligence's Intelligence System http://new.riskintelligence.eu/
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Piracy and armed robbery against ships, corruption, and illegal trafficking are well-known maritime security challenges – now it is time to find solutions. On Tuesday, October 6th, an international conference organized for the second year in a row by the Danish Shipowners’ Association, Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), and Risk Intelligence, in cooperation with Clipper, will focus on the biggest and most pressing maritime security challenges facing the maritime industry and governments maritime security and aims to find new solutions to address these threats.
At the conference, which is a part of Danish Maritime Days, international maritime experts from both the public and private sectors will discuss regional maritime security challenges in West Africa and Southeast Asia – as well as identify opportunities for governments and the maritime industry to work together to address threats to maritime security. The agenda includes international keynote speakers, expert presentations, panel discussions, and workshops with a particular emphasis on interactive sessions aimed at engaging all participants and including their expertise and knowledge in the conference outputs.
“This year’s theme for the conference is ‘Regional Maritime Security Challenges and Opportunities for Governments and Industry’. It’s a unique opportunity that we can gather so many participants from the maritime sector with a shared interest in a common effort to address some of the most pressing maritime security challenges,” says Hans Tino Hansen, CEO of Risk Intelligence, who will provide a presentation outlining the current status of global maritime security challenges.
The recent increase in maritime piracy and armed robbery against ships in Southeast Asia, and persistent high levels of maritime crime in West Africa, are indications that addressing these costly threats to international trade and seafarers need fresh thinking and clear strategies. ”Security is extremely important for governments, shipping companies, seafarers, and everybody who works in the maritime sector – therefore it is crucial that we meet to discuss challenges and how we in common can solve them. That is rarely done across governmental and private stakeholders – which is why this conference is so important,” says Morten Glamsø, Senior Advisor at the Danish Shipowners’ Association.
Last year’s conference attracted more than 90 participants from 12 different countries, representing both public and private organizations and agencies, to discuss the effects of maritime crime on economic growth and development in Africa. “The conclusions last year showed that there are important lessons to be learned from the successful international effort to address Somali piracy. These must be retained in order to avoid a resurgence in attacks off the Horn of Africa, but may also have applications in other regions” says Jens Vestergaard Madsen, Senior Project Associate at OBP.
The conference takes place on October 6th from 0930 to 1615 at Clipper House in Copenhagen, and will be followed by an informal reception and networking session. Attendance is free, but registration is required and space is limited. More information about the agenda, speakers and how to register can be found at http://ow.ly/Rd7Lw.