Iran Says Opposed to Europe’s Military Presence in Persian Gulf

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Seyed Abbas Araqchi expressed the country’s opposition to any foreign military presence in the Persian Gulf region, including the presence of European forces.

Speaking in a meeting with the new Danish ambassador to Tehran on Wednesday, Araqchi stressed that the security of the Persian Gulf region should be provided by the countries of the region.

He said the presence of foreign troops will not only not help establish security but will prepare the ground for the escalation of tensions as well.

The Iranian official underlined that Persian Gulf security is an issue of common interest for all regional countries. He said the establishment of sustainable security in the region is contingent upon dialogue and collective cooperation among regional countries and non-interference by foreign powers.

“Therefore, instead of deploying troops and military equipment or selling massive amounts of arms to certain regional countries, Denmark and other European countries had better tackle the root cause of tensions in the region, namely the United States’ destructive and wrong policies in the Persian Gulf region,” he said.

In the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on regional and international developments, fighting terrorism, the situation in the Middle East, the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis and potential for economic cooperation between the two countries.

Source: tasnimnews.com

Pirates are kidnapping more seafarers off West Africa, IMB reports

ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) figures show a rise in piracy and armed robbery on the world’s seas in the first nine months of 2020, with a 40% increase in the number of kidnappings reported in the Gulf of Guinea. Pirates armed with guns and knives are abducting bigger groups of seafarers at further distances off the West African coast.

IMB’s latest global piracy report details 132 attacks since the start of 2020, up from 119 incidents in the same period last year. Of the 85 seafarers kidnapped from their vessels and held for ransom, 80 were taken in the Gulf of Guinea – in 14 attacks reported off Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana.

In the first nine months of 2020, seafarers reported 134 cases of assault, injury and threats, including 85 crewmembers being kidnapped and 31 held hostage onboard their ships. A total of 112 vessels were boarded and six were fired upon, while 12 reported attempted attacks. Two fishing vessels were hijacked, both in the Gulf of Guinea.

“Crews are facing exceptional pressures due to Covid-19, and the risk of violent piracy or armed robbery is an extra stress,” said Michael Howlett, Director of IMB, whose Piracy Reporting Center (IMB PRC) has responded to reports and shared data since 1991, supporting seafarers and fishers worldwide. “While IMB liaises with authorities swiftly in case of a pirate attack, we encourage all Coastal states and Regional Cooperations to take responsibility for ensuring maritime security within their EEZ to achieve safer seas and secure trade.”

Gulf of Guinea the world’s piracy hotspot

With approximately 95% of global kidnappings reported from within Gulf of Guinea waters, IMB warns that pirate gangs in the area are “well organized and targeting all vessel types over a wide range”.

The furthest attack from shore also involved the most crew kidnapped from a single vessel in 2020. On 17 July 2020, eight pirates armed with machine guns boarded a product tanker underway around 196 nautical miles southwest of Bayelsa, Nigeria. They held all 19 crewmembers hostage, stole ship’s documents and valuable items, and escaped with 13 kidnapped crew. The tanker was left drifting with limited and unqualified navigational and engine crew onboard. A nearby merchant vessel later helped the tanker to sail to a safe port. Regional Authorities were notified and the 13 kidnapped crewmembers were released safely one month later.

A more recent example was on 8 September 2020, when armed pirates attacked a refrigerated cargo ship underway around 33nm south-southwest of Lagos, Nigeria. Two crewmembers were kidnapped, but the rest of the crew managed to retreat into the citadel – one of the industry’s recommended best practices endorsed by IMB. A Nigerian naval team was dispatched, who boarded, conducted a search, and then escorted the ship to a safe anchorage for investigations.

The IMB piracy report includes a special thanks to the Nigerian Authorities, particularly the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA who “continue to provide timely information, actions and valuable cooperation between Agencies”.

Knife attacks in Singapore Straits

The piracy center recorded 15 attacks to ships underway in the Singapore Straits. While most are considered low level crimes, two crew were threatened, one injured and another taken hostage, indicating a continued risk to the crew. Knives were reported in at least ten of the incidents.

Indonesia brighter

There has been a sharp quarterly decrease in the number of incidents within the Indonesian archipelagic, with four reported in Q3, down from 14 in Q2. These are viewed as low level opportunistic thefts with most reported on anchored vessels.

Call for more reporting

All vessel types in the Caribbean, Central and South America – including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico and Peru are being targeted at anchor as well as underway, and during river passages under pilotage. On 26 September 2020, a container vessel was boarded by armed perpetrators during its river passage at Guayaquil. The attackers fired their weapons towards the accommodation and bridge, then opened containers and stole the contents before leaving.

However, as many more cases go unreported, IMB is urging all ship masters and operators to inform, in a timely manner, the 24-hour IMB Piracy Reporting Center of any attacks to their vessels or crew.

Howlett said the IMB PRC has always believed in the power of sharing and exchanging information: “Understanding the true risk in the area is an important step towards improving safety for all seafarers. IMB PRC not only relays reports to appropriate response agencies and broadcasts incident information to ships via GMDSS, but we also use the reported statistics to raise awareness of these crimes and be a catalyst of change.”

Somali piracy remains under control

No incidents of piracy have been reported around Somalia since 2018. In August 2020, pirates freed the last three of the thousands of hostages who have been held captive in the region over the years since ship hijackings peaked in 2011.

Despite this, as Somali pirates are still capable of carrying out further attacks, IMB urges vessels to continue implementing the industry’s best management practices (BMP5), and encourages the continued, stabilising presence of navies the region.

IMB Piracy Reporting Center

Since its founding in 1991, IMB PRC remains a single point of contact to report all crimes of maritime piracy and armed robbery, 24 hours a day. Their prompt forwarding of reports, and liaison with response agencies, broadcasts to shipping via GMDSS Safety Net Services and email alerts to CSOs, all provided free of cost, help the response against piracy and armed robbery and the security of seafarers, globally.

Source: iccwbo.org

Iran’s defense chain in PG ready to respond to any threat

Iranian Navy ships in Velayat-90 military exercise, by Mohammad Sadegh Heydari via Wikipedia

TEHRAN, Oct. 13 (MNA) – Deputy Navy Commander for Coordination Rear Admiral Hamzeh Ali Kaviani said that Iran’s defense chain in the south of the country is ready to respond to any threat.

He made the remarks at the welcoming ceremony of Iran’s 69th naval flotilla which returned to the southern port city of Bandar Abbas on Tuesday after a 67-day mission in the international waters. “The presence of foreigners in the Persian Gulf is of no use to them, we declare to the enemies that Iran will respond to any threat to its waters and interests,” said Kaviani.

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Source: mehrnews.com

Iran Army to unveil domestic UAVs, helicopter carrier

TEHRAN, Oct. 06 (MNA) – Iran’s Navy Commander announced over the unveiling of the first Iranian vessel that is capable of carrying helicopters, UAVs, and a range of missiles as well as bypassing the Earth three times with just one refueling.

Speaking in a ceremony on Tuesday, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi described Iran navy as a symbol of Iran’s authority in the seas which is updating its military capacities in a dynamic way.

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Source: en.mehrnews.com

Combined Maritime Forces and EU NAVFOR discuss counter-piracy campaigns

Press Release

THE Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and EUNAVFOR have held discussions about developing their partnership in conducting counter-piracy operations in the region.

CMF’s Combined Task Force 151, an anti-piracy task force led by the Turkish Navy, held discussions with Commander of EUNAVFOR’s CTF 465, Rear Admiral Riccardo Marchiò via a video teleconference.

CTF 151 Commander, Rear Admiral Inanir said: “It is important that we continue discussions with our partners, especially in this crucial part of the world.”

“Today we talked about planning joint exercises, focused operations and information sharing. We need to ensure that there are no gaps in our routine patrols, so that we are both able to respond to incidents effectively,” RADM Inanir added.

Whilst the CTF 151 staff conducted the call from the CMF headquarters in Bahrain, RADM Marchiò was operating from the Italian frigate, Luigi Rizzo, as his task force commence counter piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

CMF’s CTF 151 and EUNAVFOR’s CTF 465 both operate in a contentious region which is home to a number of the world’s most strategic chokepoints, and piracy and armed robbery at sea remain a threat to merchant shipping in the region.

Both commanders agree that the size of the area is a challenge that can only overcome by effective cooperation, demonstrating the importance of the partnership shared by CMF and EUNAVFOR.

“There are many merits to coordinating exercises and military campaigns together; warships are able to operate efficiently together,” said RADM Riccardo Marchiò.

“The south west monsoon season continues in the region, with associated blustery weather and a high sea state. As the weather eases, it becomes more feasible for pirates to operate again,” said RADM Inanir, concluding the call. “CTF 151 and CTF 465 must be ready and alert to prevent them.”

IMSC Statement on the Incident with Motor Tanker Wila

BAHRAIN

08.13.2020

Story by NAVCENT Public Affairs 

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet

Coalition Task Force (CTF) Sentinel, the operational arm of the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) monitored an incident involving Iranian forces who boarded a tanker in the international waters of the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz, Aug 12.

A video captured the moment an Iranian Sea King helicopter hovered above M/T Wila and armed Iranian personnel fast roped aboard the ship. Initial reports indicate two Iranian ships in the vicinity of the incident.

Iran’s use of its military forces to conduct an armed boarding of a commercial vessel in international waters constitutes a blatant violation of international law that undermines freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce. We call on Iran to articulate to the international community the legal basis for its actions. This type of reckless, aggressive behavior by Iran destabilizes the region and threatens the rules based international order.

A CTF Sentinel coalition ship was providing overwatch in the immediate area and monitored the incident. There were no calls for help issued by Wila. CTF Sentinel’s mission is to deter and expose malign activity and reassure the maritime community in the region.

CTF Sentinel is working to secure the regional maritime commons and recommends Best Management Practices 5 (BMP5) as a guide for enhanced maritime security.

Source: dvidshub.net

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Iranian Forces Board Liberian-Flagged Tanker in the Persian Gulf

In the latest salvo of the ongoing disputes regarding the shipment of Iranian oil, there are reports that Iranian Naval forces approached several vessels and boarded a Liberian-flagged tanker Wila as it was approaching the Khor Fakkan anchorage in the UAE.

The marine security firm Dryad Global reported the incident while also saying according to its analysis that, “Iran’s actions today do not raise the overall risk posed by vessels within either the Gulf of Oman or Strait of Hormuz.” In an update to its initial report, using data from TankerTracker, Dryad however later added details suggesting that Iranian forces also approached the Marshal Island flagged MT Freud and the Panama flagged MT Chemway Arrow prior to boarding the Wila.

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Source:

New Home for Operation Sentinel

BAHRAIN

08.06.2020

Story by NAVCENT Public Affairs 

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet

The International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) held a ribbon cutting ceremony on board Naval Support Activity Bahrain to formally open the new operational headquarters for Coalition Task Force (CTF) Sentinel, Aug. 6.

The new and improved space will enhanced the flow of information and allow for greater coordination in tracking merchant shipping as it transits through key waterways in the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Oman.

Cdre. Rob Bellfield, CTF Sentinel Commander paid particular praise to the contributions made by regional partners who are members of the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC).

“Our partners in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates share their exceptional political and geographic knowledge of the region,” said Bellfield. “They know this region intimately because this is their home, which they graciously share with us. The interoperability between Sentry ships from the region and Sentinel ships from Australia, the United Kingdom and United States, as well as regional Naval Operation Centres, highlights the close relationship we have allowing CTF Sentinel to maintain an operational strength we may not otherwise achieve.”

The ceremony was limited to ensure social distancing and to mitigate against the spread of coronavirus.

Representatives from the host nation, Bahrain, were in attendance.

“We are pleased to be here today for the opening of the new headquarters of CTF Sentinel,” said Rear Adm. Mohammed Yousif Al-Asam, Commander of Royal Bahrain Naval Forces. “It marks another vital facet of the IMSC, which has proved to be effective in ensuring the freedom of navigation, the safety of all the maritime shipping in the region and the strategic passage ways.”

In acknowledging this milestone, Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces, said, “IMSC’s success comes from standing and working together. This coalition fulfils a much-needed role. Its watchwords of “Vigilance, Surveillance, and Assurance” tell you exactly what CTF Sentinel is about and why the task force plays such a key role in the region. They are providing the much-needed collective eyes and ears to some of the world’s most congested, contested waters.”

Since the opening of the watch floor in November 2019, the Task Force Sentinel team has continued to expand in both capability and capacity.

Malloy praised the “enduring commitment of all nations that contribute to the free flow of merchant shipping through some of the world’s busiest sea lanes.”

The multi-national, British-led CTF Sentinel deploys ships and aircraft throughout the region as part of the international surveillance and detection effort, ensuring freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waters.

Source: dvidshub.net

Maritime guards bust 1 ton of narcotics in S Iran

Maritime guards of Hormozgan Province have seized 1 ton of illicit drugs in Bandar Lengeh, said navy commander.

The Commander of Maritime Guards in Hormozgan Colonel Hossein Dehaki said on Sunday that border guards in Bandar Lengeh naval base managed to identify two smuggling bands following intelligence operations.

He added that they have successfully seized 1 vessel and 1 vehicle, in addition to the confiscation of 1 ton of opium.

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Source: en.mehrnews.com

Yemen coastguard see uptick in seizures of arms smuggled to Houthis

Hind Al Soulia – Riyadh – Yemen’s coastguard recently found sacks of AK-47 ammunition hidden on a trading vessel shortly followed on another operation by discovering 40 kilos of cocaine. All the shipments were headed to rebel-controlled areas of the war-torn country and come as a result of efforts to control violations of a UN arms embargo.

Col Abduljabar Zahzooh, who leads Yemen’s coastguard in the Red Sea, told The National the raid last Thursday that uncovered the hidden ammunition was the fourth time they’ve uncovered such illicit cargo in just the last few months.

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Source: alkhaleejtoday.co