22 April 2018
In the media | 07 Dec 2015

Al Jazeera special Report: The Pirates of Southeast Asia

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

News | 24 Nov 2015

Use of Nigerian Navy for private security remains subject to severe restrictions


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/
For any questions please contact us via the contact form or by phone. 

Press release | 03 Sep 2015

Maritime Security Challenges to be Addressed During Danish Maritime Days 6 October

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

In the media | 22 Jul 2015

Southeast Asia – a pirates’ paradise

DW (Deutsche Welle)

According to the International Maritime Bureau, the waters off the coasts of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore now contain the highest number of operating pirate networks in the world. This year alone, pirate attacks in Southeast Asia accounted for more than half of the world’s reported pirate attacks. In a recent interview with Germany’s international news broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Southeast Asia expert and Risk Intelligence senior analyst Karsten von Hoesslin sheds light on how Southeast Asia seemingly has become ‘a pirates’ paradise’.

To Deutsche Welle, von Hoesslin explains how it is a number of regional factors and conditions combined that has turned Southeast Asia into a hotspot for piracy. For one, the straits of Malacca, Singapore and in the South China Sea constitute some of the most trafficked and thus profitable maritime areas in the world. Further, a dense web of small and desolate islands in the region provides the perfect hideaway for pirates. And last, an underlying interstate distrust characterizing regional initiatives, coupled with weak and corrupt police units, have turned counter piracy efforts inefficient and mainly symbolic. Pirate networks have thus been allowed to proliferate and professionalize into ‘logistical masterpieces’, von Hoesslin explains: “Today, everything is pre-planned and is part of a larger criminal activity. It is very easy to counterfeit legal papers for the products such as palm oil, gas or petrol and to transport them.”

The proliferating piracy in Southeast Asia spreads insecurity for seafarers in the region and is estimated to cost millions of dollars every year. That pirate networks continue to evolve into professional crime syndicates, while regional initiatives remain no more than ‘gesture politics’ is thus highly problematic, von Hoesslin warns.

To learn more and read the full interview with von Hoesslin, click here

In the media | 08 Jul 2015

Islamic State aims to hit the Suez Canal


Recently, Egypt inaugurated a major expansion to the Suez Canal during a large national ceremony. Before the inauguration Danish maritime magazine ShippingWatch interviewed CEO and founder of Risk Intelligence, Hans Tino Hansen, about the maritime security risks facing the new canal.

Several security experts have argued the new Suez Canal to be an obvious target for terrorist groups, such as Islamic State. And in Egypt, thirteen people were recently arrested for being under suspicion of plotting bombings on the canal. Commenting on the likelihood of an attack on the new Suez Canal, Hans Tino Hansen told ShippingWatch: “IS will probably try to hit the canal. It is doubtful how much damage they can actually cause, beyond creating insecurity. And while insecurity is also what they aim for  we do not, at the moment, estimate Islamic State or any other radical groups to have the capacity to fully halt operations in the canal.”

Hans Tino Hansen further underlined that while increased attacks on ships in the new canal is a significant risk, the effects of a ship attacks are usually, among radical Islamist groups, considered to be minor compared to the effort it takes to conduct such attacks. Inland attacks are known to be much more efficient. Yet, it cannot be excluded, Hansen ads, that someone would attempt an attack just to show that they can.

To read the whole interview, click here. Note that the interview is only available in Danish. 

In the media | 19 Jun 2015

Essay: Quantifying Piracy Trends in the Gulf of Guinea — Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong?


Risk Intelligence senior analyst and West Africa expert Dirk Steffen has published an essay on the US Naval Institute’s online news and analysis portal (USNI News), where he challenges mainstream piracy analysis based on incident counts:  ‘Quantifying Piracy Trends in the Gulf of Guinea — Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong?’ He examines how public and private organizations quantify and record incidents of armed robbery, piracy and other maritime security risks in the Gulf of Guinea, and how such quantifications shape differing and often contrasting perceptions of maritime security and stakeholder responses to it.

Mismatching security perceptions are common in the Gulf of Guinea. While the International Maritime Bureau recently published a report concluding a drop of 18% of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, large insurance companies and other organizations still perceive the gulf as a high-risk area and present data that shows significant increases in piracy-related incidents. To Steffen, the reason for such different security perceptions are to be found in the production of numbers and making of categories that, by being directed towards different commercial interests and stakeholders’ needs, often only presents one-sided dimensions of reality. Recording only “acts of piracy”, the International Maritime Organization for example, constitutes one organization presenting a narrow version of maritime insecurity directed for the most part against seafarers of foreign-trading ships. Using the numbers of the International Maritime Organization on the Gulf of Guinea is inadequate if one seeks a general understanding of West African maritime security patterns, writes Steffen. He emphasizes how maritime security in this region encompasses several nuanced and hard to define-challenges beyond piracy, but often closely related to it. Illegal bunkering, theft, various types of trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, for example all contribute to making maritime security risks hard to quantify through simple categories, but are essential for explaining piracy phenomena off the Gulf of Guinea coast.

Industry and stakeholders demand numbers and quantification upon which they can base risk assessments and this has led to an increase in maritime security and intelligence organizations offering such numbers, Steffen writes. While any increase in reporting and recording of maritime security incidents is to be welcomed, the utility of such figures is strongly reliant on the ability to recognize the different ways in which organizations quantify maritime insecurity and how and to which end they draw conclusions from it.

Steffen concludes that there remains a need to complement the quantitative data gathering on the Gulf of Guinea – and elsewhere – with qualitative assessments and a broader focus on the maritime security climate for meaningful forecasts and selection of mitigation measures. As Steffen writes, “numbers alone do not provide an understanding of a maritime security situation. The intelligence analysis behind them does.”

To read the full article, click here. 

In the media | 14 Jun 2015

Talking with the wrong Libyans

The New York Times

Together with researcher Brian Klaas, Risk Intelligence associate North Africa analyst Jason Pack has published an op-ed, wherein he urges the West to rethink ongoing United Nations-sponsored peace talks on Libya, and start engaging with those that actually have the power to make a difference in forging lasting peace in Libya.

Thursday, the deadline for a United Nations-sponsored peace agreement on Libya passes. Currently, Libya is now in civil war and since last election, the country has had two governments claiming nationwide rule. While one elected, largely anti-Islamist government has taken refuge in Tobruk, another self-appointed Islamic government controls Tripoli. So far, the West has through the United Nations-peace talks engaged most with the government in Tobruk. However, this administration has recently rejected the United Nations’ latest peace sharing proposal.

Without a peace agreement, civil war in Libya is likely to intensify, Klaas and Point state. This is bad for Libya, but also for the West: The increasing presence of ISIS in Libya, as well as continuous smuggler operations along Libya’s unpatrolled borders pose severe challenges to both regional and international security and stability.

So how does the West turn around the downward-spiraling peace talks and create meaningful negotiations that can contribute to forging lasting peace in Libya? Klaas and Pack’s key point is that the West must change the format of the current United Nations-sponsored peace talks radically. Crucial to such change is arguably to shy away from the ‘narrow anti-Islamist ideology’ currently leading the talks, and start involving the actors who actually have de facto control over Libyan territory. Such actors are neither the government in Tobruk nor the one in Tripoli solely, but militia commanders and local councils. As Klaas and Pack write, “ultimately, Europe and America will have to engage directly with the militias, especially the powerful Misratan bloc, which can actually contain jihadists and the flow of migrants. If they do not, Libya will remain paralyzed by political stalemate, drenched in the blood spilled by ISIS and haunted by the ghosts of helpless migrants drowning on Europe’s doorstep.”

To read the full version of the opinion editorial, click here 

In the media | 19 May 2015

Shipping companies use billions on security in West Africa

DR2, DR P1 and P3

Piracy-related incidents off the coast of West Africa are increasingly in focus and the high security cost of sailing through the Gulf of Guinea is posing concern to Danish shipping companies, Danish television news magazine DR2 Morgen reports. CEO and founder of Risk Intelligence, Hans Tino Hansen, visited national TV DR2 Morgen to talk about the maritime threat environment in the Gulf of Guinea and the Danish government’s new piracy strategy, which includes a refocussing of efforts from East Africa to West Africa.

When the Danish government earlier this year presented a new piracy strategy for 2015 to 2018, it included a new plan on partaking in piracy-combatting efforts in the Gulf of Guinea. Denmark already has successful experience with being part of counter-piracy efforts from its engagement in the Gulf of Aden in East Africa. However, piracy in West Africa differs significantly from piracy in East Africa, Hans Tino Hansen tells DR2 Morgen.

“In East Africa, piracy was mainly characterized by simple straightforward hijacking for ransom. Piracy off the coast of Nigeria is far more complicated,” Hans Tino Hansen explains. “West African maritime crime spans over everything from small harbor thefts over kidnap for ransom to opportunistic armed piracy to planned large-scale hijacking of product tankers.. This is a high surplus demanded in Nigeria as Nigeria have crude oil, but lack refineries to produce enough products for the market. For this reason, there is a massive demand and a large black market for refined oil.”

The hijackings of product tankers off the coast of Nigeria signifies that larger crime syndicates with connections to military and political circles are involved, Hans Tino Hansen informs DR2 Morgen.  So while Somalia posed a challenge and piracy threat by being a failed state, this was what allowed international actors to operate more or less freely when pursuing pirates. In West Africa, Nigeria and other West African states, pose a challenge to international piracy-combatting efforts by being sovereign states wanting to protect their own waters and exercise their own national jurisdiction – despite the possible lack of ability or interest to do so. In Nigeria, where the piracy-problem is the biggest, the piracy problem “is simply not a strategic problem” Hans Tino Hansen tells DR2 Morgen: “A strategic problem for Nigeria is one such as Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. In contrast to this group, which the Nigerian military has to deploy a lot of resources to combat, piracy is not much more than a mere irritation – rather, it is in some cases a source to funding for certain circles.”

To the question of what the different circumstances in West Africa means for the future Danish engagement here, Hans Tino Hansen says that it is pivotal to look at the effort regionally and to include willing neighboring countries: “If we can succeed in helping neighboring countries by developing and capacity-building their maritime capabilities and local authorities, then we can contain the Nigerian problem while at the same time trying to work with Nigeria”.

To see the full interview with Hans Tino Hansen in Danish, click here. To hear a similar interview with Hans Tino Hansen in Danish by the radio news magazine P1, click here. To hear Hans Tino Hansen’s comments on piracy in West Africa – also in Danish – to the Danish popular radio show P3, click here. 

In the media | 11 May 2015

Piracy in Asia on the rise

The Straits Times

Singapore Straits (Karsten von Hoesslin)

Since last year, reports of pirate attacks in the waters surrounding Singapore has been on the rise. Especially fuel and oil-related incidents have increased significantly, the Straits Times writes in their article ‘Piracy in Asia on the rise’. Special projects manager for Risk Intelligence, Karsten von Hoesslin, contributes to the article by sharing his insight on crime and pirate syndicates in Southeast Asia.

According to von Hoesslin, fuel is “the perfect product to steal” in Southeast Asia. A lucrative regional black market exists for the commodity, as fuel “is nearly untraceable”; often blended with other materials or sold directly on to other vessels. Efforts to curb the attacks are therefore challenging and they are further hindered by the fact that Asian pirate syndicates are extremely hard to map. Whereas “foot soldiers” are primarily Indonesian, “middlemen and big bosses” are often Malaysian and Singaporean. And "[t]he money often ends up in a 'Big Boss' Singaporean bank account", von Hoesslin tells the Straits Times. All of these factors combined make it only expectable that fuel-related piracy incidents will continue to occur in Asia, according to von Hoessling.

Singapore is the no. 1 bunker market in the world. However, as von Hoesslin finally explains in ‘Piracy in Asia on the rise’, the Singaporean market is also “known for a darker side to its bunkering legacy. Syndicates have acknowledged that bunkering agents in Singapore are often the 'insider information' link that is compromised when it comes to the security of the vessel and cargo."

To read the full article, click here. To read another article using Karsten von Hoesslin’s comments on the rise in fuel-related piracy in Asia, published by BunkerWorld, click here. Note that the latter link is only viewable for subscribers. 

In the media | 05 May 2015

Maersk opting to be ”more cautious” at Iran


After Iran’s arrest of Maersk Tigris in the Strait of Hormuz, the US Navy has been escorting British and American vessels through the narrow strait. Maersk Line, which still awaits information from Iran on Maersk Tigris’ arrest, has not employed any new security measures. Rather, the carrier has opted for merely encouraging a “more cautious” approach among its vessels in the Hormuz area. To Shipping Watch, CEO and founder of Risk Intelligence, Hans Tino Hansen lays out three possible scenarios related to the Iranian arrest of Maersk Tigris, which may explain the crisis as well as the differing responses thereto.

The worst-case scenario is according to Hans Tino Hansen the scenario that underlies Iran’s official explanation of why Maersk Tigris was arrested: “… if a civil lawsuit is in fact the reason this ship was arrested… all parties with even the slightest ties to business relations in the country could face a potential risk of a similar incident. One could ask why the Iranians would pick a ship that in fact has nothing to do with Maersk Line beyond the fact that the carrier has chartered it," Hansen says.

However, this worst-case scenario is also the least likely, according to Hansen. A second, more likely scenario is based on intelligence: “There are numerous factors indicating that the Revolutionary Guard is behind this. This means there could be some internal Iranian political matter behind the incident, where someone wanted to fan the flame, so to speak, following the nuclear negotiations, in order to see how the world and not least the US would react. If so, this is likely an isolated event that will not develop further, and which will hopefully be resolved soon," Hansen tells Shipping Watch.

To read the full article and learn about the third scenario, click here. 

In the media | 01 May 2015

Shipping warned on Iran action against Maersk

IHS Maritime 360: Safety and Security

In an interview with Girija Shettar from IHS Maritime 360, CEO of Risk Intelligence, Hans Tino Hansen, warns that Shipping-related businesses could be at risk while operating in the Persian Gulf.

Since the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on 28 April seized the ship Maersk Tigris in the Strait of Hormuz, the United States has sent navy ships to escort US-flagged vessels in the area. Commenting on the arrest, which allegedly was due to an unresolved commercial case between Maersk and an Iranian company, Hans Tino Hansen tells IHS Maritime; “the problem is quite big. You have a situation where any company or any vessel that is connected directly or indirectly to a court case or potential court case or commercial dispute in Iran could face arrest in the Persian Gulf. That could be the conclusion and that has potential for a lot of problems”.

However, Hansen also points out to IHS Maritime that “If [the arrest was not actually carried out on the basis of a commercial claim], then it might be a smokescreen - the result of a game between hardliners and those, in Iran, who want negotiations with the international community… If the Americans had sent in a destroyer and something had happened - that would be the end of the negotiations”. The official Iranian explanation of a civil lawsuit as laying ground for the arrest of Maersk Tigris can be viewed as a ‘loophole’ out of a sticky domestically rooted political situation, according to Hans Tino Hansen. Yet, Hans Tino Hansen underlines to IHS Maritime that ship operators should stay very cautious when operating in the area around the Strait of Hormuz, as “you actually don't know what is going to be the rule going forward”.

To read the full online article of IHS Maritime, click here.

In the media | 30 Apr 2015

Risk Intelligence: Madness if debt is the cause of the Maersk-seizure


Risk Intelligence CEO, Hans Tino Hansen, calls it ‘an unheard use of force’ from Iranian side if a civil debt issue is what has forced the ship ‘Maersk Tigris’ from international waters to Iran. Other reasons must lay behind the violent arrest, he tells the Danish maritime news magazine Søfart.

Iran’s official explanation of the Iranian military’s strange boarding and detainment of Maersk Tigris is now that the arrest stems from an unresolved debt issue between Maersk and Iranian companies. In relation to this statement, Maersk Lines has confirmed that they do have an unresolved civil debt issue with an Iranian company. This allegedly stems from 2005 where about 10 containers were shipped to Dubai for an Iranian company. The containers were never picked up and ended up being assigned to the United Arab Emirates’ authorities. The assignment led to a long-lasting, still unresolved lawsuit, Søfart writes. Commenting on the issue for Søfart, Hans Tino Hansen says, however, that other reasons than a civil lawsuit should lay behind the violent arrest of Maersk Tigris: “If the issue of debt proves to be the foundation, then it is madness. It is unheard of that one uses military power to seize a ship in internationally recognized waters, only to clarify what is in fact a civil lawsuit. In such case, it opens for a complete chaos on the high seas”.

Risk Intelligence believes it is more likely that Iran’s official debt explanation serves as a smokescreen for the West and a resort for the Iranians. As previously explained to Søfart, Risk Intelligence believe the Iranians use the debt explanation to escape a tense international situation essentially rooted in domestic political infighting between so-called hardliners and more Western-oriented and negotiation-friendly politicians (in Iran).

To read the full article in Danish, follow this link: http://soefart.dk/?art=6574. Please note that only subscribers of Søfart have full access to the article.

In the Media | 29 Apr 2015

Maersk Tigris seizure happens only days after ’Maersk Kensington’-confrontation


Tuesday’s Iranian seizing of the Maersk-chartered containership ‘Maersk Tigris’ happens only four days after another ship, ‘Maersk Kensington’, had a confrontation with Iranian gunboats, Maersk Line’s press Officer Michael Storgaard informs Danish maritime news magazine Søfart.

Maersk Kensington was approached by what was estimated to be four Iranian gunboats, while sailing on the route between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. Maersk Tigris’ forced redirection from passage in the Strait of Hormuz thus follows in the wake of a similar Maersk Line-experience in the same waters. Although Maersk Kensington (contrary to Maersk Tigris) was able to sail on unhindered, Michael Storgaard informs Søfart that Maersk Line finds the recent Iranian interferences strange and unusual. The shipping company is however not ready to let the events influence their operations at this point, Michael Storgaard says.

At Risk Intelligence, the over Iran’s recent actions in the Strait of Hormuz is shared. But neither here, the recent events make the company raise the threat assessment/level for ships in the strait:

“Clearly, after the two incidents this week, there is a large focus on security. Everyone needs to be alert to Iranian military vessels. However, we do not estimate that there is a general escalation in the threat picture on the short-term”, Hans Tino Hansen, founder and CEO of Risk Intelligence, informs Søfart. He explains, “Our suggestion is that it is internal Iranian affairs that has triggered the seizing/arrest. Together with the Revolutionary Guard, hardliners may have used this event to pressure those who are more negotiation-friendly in Iran”.

To read the full article in Danish, follow the link: http://www.soefart.dk/?art=6567. Please note that the full article is only available for subscribers. 

In the media | 23 Apr 2015

Maritime operations against smugglers in the Mediterranean

Danish Radio P1 Orientering

Photo: unhcr.org

The migrant crisis in the Mediterranean reached high-level attention as European heads of state and government recently gathered in Brussels to discuss how the EU should respond to the pressing situation along its southern border. Among discussions of a more just distribution of asylum-seekers and resettlement, EU leaders discussed a possible military intervention against Libyan migrant smugglers and their boats in the Mediterranean.

Søren Carlsen from the Danish national radio program “P1 Orientering” interviewed CEO and founder of Risk Intelligence, Hans Tino Hansen, about limitations and possibilities for an EU-initiated military intervention against migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean.

On the potential of a military operation, Hans Tino Hansen said; “Military intervention is a very hard task. The persons you target through military operations such as those proposed by the EU, are those in lowest levels of the smuggling network. The ones you really should target are those that are in the core of the network. Also, according to international law, you can’t just bomb the boats. You need to identify the ship first, and clarify whether it is involved in illegal activities. Only then you can then proceed to board and seize the boat and arrest the smugglers if you have evidence of their criminal behavior. The smugglers are not terrorists, but criminals. They need to be proven guilty and judged accordingly.”

Rather than focusing on a pure military intervention, Hans Tino Hansen suggests that emphasis should be on stopping the organisers of the smuggling networks. This could be achieved by cooperating internationally on  stopping financial flows to the backers of the networks, increasing safety, security and naval operations in the Mediterranean, and providing support to improve the political and economic development in Libya – similar efforts that all proved successful in combatting Somali piracy networks.

P1 Orientering is a Danish national radio news magazine that analyses developments in Danish, European and international politics on a daily basis. Click here for the full radio interview in Danish.

Click here for the full radio interview in Danish

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


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


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): 

Presentation | 16 Mar 2015

Private Industry Perspectives on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea

Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College

Dirk Steffen, Director Maritime Security was speaking at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College - on "Private Industry Perspectives on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea" 30 March 2015. 

News | 25 Feb 2015

PFSO kursus

Fredericia Havn 4.-5. maj 2015

Kurset gennemføres med teoretiske og praktiske lektioner, og har til formål, at give den enkelte deltager kendskab til ansvar og pligter i rollen som sikringsansvarlig for en facilitet.

Undervisningen genneføres inden for rammerne af International Ship and Port Facility Securuty koden (ISPS), EU direktiver og forordninger samt danske bekendtgørelser og love.

For tilmelding til kurset venligst kontakt Jens Madsen, MAHILUM eller Stefan Nonboe, Risk Intelligence
MAHILUM og Risk Intelligence  

Briefing | 19 Feb 2015

The use of Nigerian Navy and Police with or without security advisors in private maritime security roles

(Photo: Dirk Steffen)

Risk Intelligence has updated its briefing paper on the use of government security forces in Nigeria by private companies. This update is in light of the detentions of three vessels by NIMASA in January 2015 on the grounds of the unauthorised use of armed and unarmed security advisers. Subsequent communications in the press have led to some confusion about the situation.

It is important to note that the recent detentions and arrests were not made in the context of an unarmed security advisor, but rather in the context of a foreign PMSC making use of armed government security forces in contravention of existing orders by the Flag Officer Western Naval Command and in contravention of the MoU by the Nigerian Navy with the PMSC. The 'unarmed' advisor was in fact rendering training and supervision for an embarked armed security team.

The briefing paper was first published on MaRisk, Risk Intelligence's subscription-based maritime security monitoring service.

The briefing paper comprehensively reviews the current situation in Nigeria and is available for download here on the Risk Intelligence website or via the link below.

Please contact Director Maritime Security Mr. Dirk Steffen for any questions. 

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