EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta: New Force Commander appointed

EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation ATALANTA's ESPS Canarias towed the vessel belonging to Somali Navy personnel back to the Somali shore.

Today, Rear Admiral lgnacio Villanueva Serrano was appointed as new force commander for the EU naval operation Atalanta. His mandate will start on 17 March.

He will exercise command and control of all military forces in the Area of Operations during the 34th rotation, and will be responsible for the planning, orchestration and execution of tactical military activities.

Rear Admiral Villanueva Serrano, a Spanish national, will take command from Commodore José Vizinha Mirones. He previously held senior positions within the Spanish Maritime Forces (SPMAFOR), and was Commanding Officer of the Spanish Navy Air Wing. He also served at the headquarters of NATO’s Allied Command Operations as capability requirements and force planning officer, and in Pristina, Kosovo, working as peace observer and liaison officer between the NATO and UN missions in Kosovo.

The decision on Rear Admiral Villanueva Serrano’s appointment was adopted by the Council’s Political and Security Committee.

EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta, contributes to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. The operation is part of the EU’s comprehensive approach for a peaceful, stable and democratic Somalia.

The operation also protects vessels of the World Food Programme and other vulnerable shipping, monitors fishing activities off the coast of Somalia and supports other EU missions and programmes in the region.

The EU’s comprehensive approach to Somalia comprises diplomatic efforts, development support, humanitarian aid as well as engagement in the field of rule of law and law enforcement. It includes three complementary missions under the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy: EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta, EUCAP Somalia, enhancing Somalia’s maritime civilian law enforcement capacity and EUTM Somalia, providing political and strategic level military advice to the Somali authorities and contributing to the development of the Somali National Army (SNA)’s own training capacity.


Troops rescue Abu Sayyaf’s last captive

By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Government troops rescued an Indonesian fisherman, the last captive of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the province of Sulu, a top military official said Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, identified the rescued Indonesian fisherman as Muhammad Farhan, 27, who was rescued around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday in Barangay Bato-Bato, Indanan, Sulu.

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A military nurse goes over the medical chart of Muhammad Farhan, an Indonesian fisherman, who was rescued Wednesday (Jan. 15, 2020) by government troops in an intelligence-driven operation in Indanan, Sulu. He is the last known captive of the bandit group. (Photo courtesy of Western Mindanao Command Public Information Office)
A military nurse goes over the medical chart of Muhammad Farhan, an Indonesian fisherman, who was rescued Wednesday (Jan. 15, 2020) by government troops in an intelligence-driven operation in Indanan, Sulu. He is the last known captive of the bandit group. (Photo courtesy of Western Mindanao Command Public Information Office)

Historical piracy reports appear online

Regular readers will know that I try to ensure all news published here is relevant and factual. In recent days, I’ve noticed that a number of historical articles relating to piracy in West and East Africa as well as incidents of abduction in SE Asia have appeared online.

Often, this occurs because news sites are updating databases or re-loading previously deleted items. However, for anyone searching for open source maritime security items, there’s a clear danger of confusion. Today, I’ve seen several sites post and then delete items which relate to the hijacking of the MV Aris 13, an incident I was heavily involved in and which helped to resolve.

The bottom line is that if you get your intel from open sources, make sure you verify it. If not, you could end up sharing something alarming, but which happened several years ago…

Oil theft bleeding the country dry

EXACTLY six years after Chatham House, an independent policy institute based in London, the United Kingdom, first alerted the world to the systemic theft of Nigerian oil “on an industrial scale”, the country is still haemorrhaging from the deep cut inflicted by massive oil theft. Instead of witnessing a stem-to-stern effort to check the grand larceny, the situation has profoundly worsened. Although the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation puts what is stolen at 120,000 barrels per day, a new report reveals that an average of 400,000 barrels of crude is purloined on a daily basis.

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Dutch hostage killed while trying to escape from militants in Philippines

MANILA (Reuters) – A Dutch photographer held hostage by Islamic State-linked militants in the Philippines since 2012 was killed on Friday by his captors when he tried to escape during a firefight on a remote southern island, the military said.

Ewold Horn, a wildlife photographer, was shot by his guards from the Abu Sayyaf group when he tried to flee during a clash between government troops and the militants, said Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of a Joint Task Force on Sulu island.

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Maritime Security News: You may recall that only ten days ago, a Philippine National Police commander had claimed that Horn had joined the group. More here:

Better prepared for maritime security incidents

Suriname is the latest country to benefit from IMO maritime security training. Participants at a workshop in Paramaribo, Suriname (7-8 May) took part in table-top contingency planning exercises involving a variety of maritime security issues. These included threats to cruise ships, border security issues involving ports, airports and land border crossing, as well as potential incidents involving proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and arms and drugs consignments.

The main objective of the exercise was to encourage a multi-agency, whole of government approach to maritime and port facility security and related maritime law enforcement issues – with participants working to identify gaps in national procedures or legislation, opportunities for improvement, and further needs for training or technical assistance.

The exercise took place following a request by Suriname to assist the country in strengthening its implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) – specifically those that fall within the scope of IMO’s SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code and/or the 1988 and 2005 SUA treaties (click for details of these treaties).

The workshop was organised in collaboration with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC).


ReCAAP issues 1st Quarter report

A total of 10 incidents of armed robbery against ships (comprising nine actual incidents and one attempted incident) were reported in Asia during January-March 2019 compared to 21 incidents (comprising 15 actual incidents and six attempted incidents) during January-March 2018. This accounts for a 52% decrease in the total number of incidents reported during January-March 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.

The number of actual incidents has also decreased by 40% during January-March 2019 compared to January-March 2018. Both the total number of incidents and number of actual incidents reported during January-March 2019 are the lowest among the period of January-March of 13-year (2007-2019).

The full report is attached here as a PDF.