Winston S. Churchill Seizes Illicit Weapons from Two Dhows off Somalia

INDIAN OCEAN – The guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) seized illicit shipments of weapons and weapons components from two stateless dhows during a maritime security operation in international waters off the coast of Somalia, Feb. 11-12.

Churchill’s Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) team and embarked joint service Advanced Interdiction Team (AIT) discovered the illicit cargo during a flag verification boarding conducted in accordance with international law and in international waters.

The cache of weapons consisted of thousands of AK-47 assault rifles, light machine guns, heavy sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and crew served weapons. Other weapon components included barrels, stocks, optical scopes and weapon systems.

The original source of the weapons has not yet been identified. Churchill located the dhows and provided more than 40 hours of over watch and security for the ship and its boarding teams throughout the two-day operation.

The dhow crews were provided food and water before being released.

“We are proud of the combined efforts of the AIT and Churchill crew members for executing dynamic and demanding boardings,” said Lt. Travis Dopp, Assistant AIT Leader aboard Churchill. “We are proud to have a positive impact on the safety and security of coalition forces by interdicting shipments of lethal aid.”

The seizure of the illicit weapons by Churchill was conducted as part of the U.S. Navy’s regular maritime security operations in the region. These routine patrols are performed to ensure the free flow of commerce for legitimate traffic and to disrupt the transport of illicit cargo that often funds terrorism and unlawful activity.

“This joint team [Army, Navy and Coast Guard] on board Churchill came together to successfully execute this operation over the course of two days in the Indian Ocean. These operations prevent nefarious actors from illegally spreading their lethal aid,” said Cdr. Timothy Shanley, commanding officer of Churchill.

Winston S. Churchill departed Norfolk, Virginia, Aug. 10 for a regularly-scheduled deployment to maintain maritime security and ensure the freedom of navigation in critical waterways.

U.S. 5th Fleet, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, conducts joint and naval operations in order to support regional allies and partners and U.S. national security interests in the Middle East.

Source: navy.mil

HMS Montrose Seizes Over $15 Million Worth of Narcotics in Arabian Sea

The Royal Navy has intercepted over 5300 lbs (2400 kg) of illicit drugs as a result of back-to-back successful interdictions in the Arabian Sea.

The boarding team from HMS Montrose, operating under the command of CMF Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) found the drugs – with a combined estimated wholesale value of over $15 million (£10.9m) – following searches of suspicious vessels whilst undertaking a counter-narcotics patrol.

In the most recent operation, which lasted over ten hours, over 4700 lbs (2145 kg) of hashish, heroin, and methamphetamine were seized. This came just two days after a separate bust in which 606 lbs (275 kg) of heroin was seized in the same area.

Commander Ollie Hucker, HMS Montrose Commanding Officer said; “These interdictions have prevented significant amounts of illicit substances being sold on the streets, whilst denying criminal groups an income source often associated with the funding of terrorism.”

CTF-150 operates to disrupt the activity of criminal organisations, in particular narcotics and weapons smuggling. After taking command of the task force in late January 2021, The Royal Canadian Navy has already overseen multiple significant successful interdictions, of which these two are the latest.

“As Commander of Combined Task Force 150, my team is resolute in our objective to promote security, stability and prosperity in an area which comprises some of the world’s most important shipping routes,” said Commodore Dan Charlebois, Commander of CTF-150.

“This interdiction was a direct result of the collaborative effort between Task Force staff and HMS Montrose, to whose crew I send my personal thanks for their skill, determination and professionalism in a challenging environment. I look forward to future successes as we continue to work together as close partners towards our common goals.”

HMS Montrose is the Royal Navy’s Forward Deployed Frigate and has been in the region since early 2019. The UK actively supports several operations and multi-national task forces in the Middle East in order to protect international and British interests.

Source: combinedmaritimeforces.com

Urgent Need for Legislation on Maritime Piracy, Parliamentary Panel Urges MEA

New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs should make sincere efforts to enhance international cooperation on maritime piracy and ensure the welfare of Indian seafarers captured by pirates, a parliamentary panel said on Thursday.

The parliamentary standing committee on external affairs made the assertion while approving the Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill 2019, subject to the inclusion of its 18 recommendations and suggestions in the paragraphs of the current Bill or through other appropriate methods like Rules or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

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Source: thewire.in

S. Korean Ship Crew Allowed to Leave Iran

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran has granted exit visas to the crew of a South Korean vessel that was seized in the Persian Gulf in early January, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Saeed Khatibzadeh said the crew members of the South Korean ship have been permitted to leave Iran “in a humanitarian gesture”.

He said the ship crew have obtained permits to leave Iran upon a request from the government of South Korea and cooperation from the Iranian Judiciary.

The legal procedures concerning the case of the offending ship and violation of law by its captain are still going on, the spokesman added.

Khatibzadeh further noted that Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi and First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Korea Choi Jong Kun have held a telephone conversation about an immediate release of Iran’s frozen funds in South Korea and the “effective mechanisms” to use those assets.

Iranian naval forces seized South Korean-flagged oil tanker HANKUK CHEMI on January 4 for creating environmental hazard.

The tanker, which had departed from Saudi Arabia’s Al Jubail port, was carrying 7,200 tons of oil chemical materials in violation of environmental regulations.

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USS Philippine Sea interdicts over $2.8 million of heroin in North Arabian Sea

The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), deployed to U.S. Fifth Fleet and operating in support of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), interdicted a shipment of more than 600 lbs. (275 kg) of suspected narcotics from a dhow in the international waters of the North Arabian Sea, Jan. 30.

Seven bags of suspected narcotics were seized and tested, resulting in a seizure of approximately 600 lbs. (275 kg) of suspected heroin, worth $2.89 million wholesale. This seizure, conducted in direct support of CMF’s Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, marks the seventh CMF drug seizure since October 2020.

To mitigate the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, the boarding team undertook carefully executed precautionary measures during and after the boarding, to include decontamination of all seized contraband.

CTF-150 conducts maritime security operations outside the Arabian Gulf to disrupt criminal and terrorist organizations, ensuring legitimate commercial shipping can transit the region, free from non-state threats. CTF-150 is currently commanded by the Royal Canadian Navy, now leading the task force for the fifth time.

Source: combinedmaritimeforces.com

Attacks at sea aren’t all linked to piracy. Why it’s important to unpick what’s what

Dirk Siebels, University of Greenwich

Pirate attacks against merchant ships off the African coast have been reported regularly over the past decade. And despite measures to suppress it, Somalia-based piracy remains a concern. On the other side of the continent, the Gulf of Guinea is now viewed as presenting a much more serious piracy problem.

Last year a record 130 crew members were kidnapped in 22 separate incidents, according to the International Maritime Bureau. The cluster of attacks in November and December has once again led to alarming headlines about the Gulf of Guinea being the world’s piracy hotspot.

But an increase in officially reported attacks does not necessarily mean that the actual number of attacks has increased. And individual cases must be analysed carefully. Attacks against small cargo ships trading solely in the Gulf of Guinea, for example, are often linked to criminal disputes or other illicit activities at sea. These incidents are very different from random attacks targeting merchant ships in international trade which are solely aimed at kidnapping seafarers to collect a large ransom and are, therefore, a profit-driven crime.

Similarly, reports about suspicious approaches against merchant ships off Somalia are still frequent. Most are related to smuggling operations between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula or simply to everyday fishing activities.

Pirate attacks may grab most headlines, but maritime security is important for wider reasons. Illicit activities at sea limit the potential benefits of economic activities linked to the sea – what’s referred to as the “blue economy”. This includes maritime trade, fishing activities, offshore oil and gas production or coastal tourism. Also, criminality at sea and on land are closely linked. Government agencies need to recognise this if security is to be improved.




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Gulf of Guinea: fighting criminal groups in the Niger Delta is key to defeating piracy


Many problems, few resources

Piracy remains arguably the most visible symptom of insecurity at sea. But coastal states also have other reasons to be concerned about it.

Illegal fishing, for example, has a direct impact on coastal communities where artisanal fishing is one of the few opportunities to earn a living. Smuggling on maritime routes even affects government income directly. Virtually all African countries rely heavily on customs revenues. When fuel, cigarettes or agricultural goods are smuggled, no import or export duties are paid. Less money can then be spent on schools, roads or hospitals, as my research has shown.

Governments are also concerned about drug trafficking or weapons smuggling at sea, underlined by international agreements which have been adopted by the majority of African coastal states.

Limited monitoring of maritime trade allows for a steady flow of pharmaceutical products – including fake drugs – into Africa as well as lucrative exports of unlicensed timber or illegal wildlife products.

Despite the widespread impacts, maritime security has only come into the political focus over the past decade. African countries have initiated international meetings about it. The African Union adopted a maritime strategy in 2014 and held a follow-up summit in Togo’s capital Lomé in 2016. But progress has been limited. National governments have largely failed to take concrete actions. Strategies aren’t supported by financial and human resources.

Even Ghana, where a comprehensive maritime strategy has been under development for years, is still unable to provide reliable funding for patrol boat operations.

The way forward

Some examples highlight that it is possible to provide more security at sea. In West Africa, Nigeria is leading the way with its $195 million Deep Blue project, scheduled to be fully operational in the coming months. This project is primarily aimed at better surveillance and enforcement across the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, an area that stretches out up to 200 nautical miles (around 360 kilometres) from the coastline.

Benin, Gabon and Tanzania have partnered with environmental organisations like Sea Shepherd to combat illegal fishing in their waters. Such non-traditional partnerships may help overcome short-term challenges and focus on urgent problems.

But it’s necessary to build capacity for the long term.

In many African countries, the blue economy could help to increase economic growth and development, although it should not be limited to economic gains. Acknowledging the needs of local communities and environmental sustainability are equally important. Investments can yield direct benefits which are five times higher than the initial outlay, according to a recent study. And the inclusion of Sustainable Development Goal 14 on ocean resources could strengthen efforts to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19.




À lire aussi :
Lift for maritime sector in Kenya and Djibouti after fall in piracy


Despite some alarming headlines, there is no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus pandemic has had an immediate impact on security threats at sea. But growth forecasts have been slashed and governments are unlikely to prioritise spending on navies and other maritime agencies.

Security concerns on land are much more immediate threats, and even relatively limited stimulus packages are another burden for government budgets.

A closer analysis of sea piracy is important for law enforcement and longer-term prevention whether these are solely aimed at pirates or at organised criminal groups. It is also important for shipping companies because it affects the threat assessment when attacks are linked to criminal activities and aimed at specific ships rather than random targets.

Short-term solutions for long-standing problems are impossible. Even small steps, however, are important to improve maritime security in the medium to long term. That would be in line with the AU’s maritime strategy which highlights the blue economy’s potential contribution to economic growth and development across the continent.The Conversation

Dirk Siebels, PhD (Maritime Security), University of Greenwich

Cet article est republié à partir de The Conversation sous licence Creative Commons. Lire l’article original.

Saudi-led forces say thwart two attacks by Yemen’s Houthis

DUBAI (Reuters) – The Saudi-led coalition fighting against Yemen’s Houthi movement said had it thwarted two attacks by the Houthis on Friday morning, including destroying an explosive-laden boat in the southern Red Sea, Saudi state TV said on Twitter.

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Source: reuters.com

IRGC Chief Warns Enemies against Miscalculation

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps described military exercises as a reminder that Iran is fully ready to safeguard its interests, warning the adversaries to avoid any miscalculation as Iran’s finger is on the trigger.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Major General Hossein Salami said military drills in Iran demonstrate the country’s deterrent power.

The war games also make it clear to the enemies that they must avoid any miscalculation about Iran’s defense power, the IRGC commander added.

The general also noted that the military drills give the enemies the message that Iran would protect its independence, dignity and identity without any consideration.

“Our fingers are on the trigger on behalf of the great Iranian nation,” he said, underlining that the IRGC forces are prepared to deal with the threats along the border, in the heart of homeland, or deep in the faraway territories.

The Iranian Army and the IRGC have held several exercises across Iran over the past two weeks.

In a war game on Saturday, the IRGC Aerospace Force blasted targets in the northern parts of the Indian Ocean with long-range ballistic missiles from a distance of 1,800 kilometers.

Source: tasnimnews.com

Pakistan Maritime Security Agency recovers drugs worth billions of rupees

KARACHI (Dunya News) – Pakistan Maritime Security Agency has recovered 207 kg of crystal ice and 227 kg of heroin from a boat during anti-narcotics operation in the high seas.

Deputy DG Maritime Security Agency Faisal Sadiq while giving a briefing said that during operation in the open sea, the maritime security agency seized 207 kg of crystal ice and 227 kg of heroin from a boat called Al Hamad.

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Source: dunyanews.tv

Iraqi explosives experts defuse marine mine in Gulf waters

BAGHDAD, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) — Iraqi explosives experts on Saturday defused a marine mine attached to the hull of an oil tanker in the Gulf waters, the Iraqi military said.

The Iraqi explosives experts of the Ministry of Interior, in cooperation with the Iraqi Navy, were able to defuse the limpet mine and launched an investigation into the incident, said a statement by the media office of the Joint Operations Command (JOC).

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Source: xinhuanet.com