Coalition forces in Yemen foil Houthi boatbomb attack

RIYADH: Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen intercepted and destroyed a remote-controlled boat rigged with explosives in Hodeidah governorate on Sunday, the alliance’s joint command said.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the coalition said the bomb-laden boat was launched by the Iran-backed Houthi “terrorist” militia.

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UK team helps free Iranian hostages from Somali pirates

File image of an approach on a dhow

LONDON: A British team has helped secure the release of three Iranian sailors from Somali pirates, amid heightened tensions between the UK and Iran over the case of the imprisoned charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The deal for the sailors’ release involved a ransom payment of $180,000 — brokered by the UK-based Hostage Support Partnership — which was coordinated by Kenya-based former British diplomat John Steed in partnership with Leslie Edwards, a UK-based hostage-negotiation specialist. It ends the longest-running maritime hostage situation in the region to date, with the three men having spent five-and-a-half years in captivity.

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Naval chief launches Joint Maritime Information Coordination Centre

Pakistan Maritime Security Agency

The inauguration ceremony of the new state-of-the-art Joint Maritime Information Coordination Centre (JMICC) was held in Karachi on Friday, and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi graced the occasion as chief guest and inaugurated the new setup.

The spokesman for the navy said in a statement that the JMICC functioned as a nerve centre to harmonise the efforts of all maritime-related organisations and agencies. It helped generating a coordinated response to maritime security challenges within Pakistan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), primarily through information-sharing and inter department/ agency coordination, he added.

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Taiwan detains suspect in shocking case of murder at sea

Taipei, Aug. 23 (CNA) A Chinese boat captain, who is suspected of ordering the killing of at least four unarmed men at sea some six years ago, was detained by Taiwanese authorities on Saturday soon after he entered Kaohsiung port on a fishing boat.

The 43-year-old suspect was arrested when the Seychelles-flagged Indian Star docked in the southern port city at 8:50 a.m. Saturday, the Coast Guard Administration’s investigation unit in Fengshan District said.

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MarsecNews: This refers to a video which appeared online in 2014, apparently found on a phone left in a taxi, which shows several men shot dead at sea by unknown gunmen.

Same armed guard who took Eagle Bulk crew hostage takes over another vessel

Sam Chambers

The armed guard who held the crew of the Eagle Bulk controlled Jaeger supramax last month has done it again.

The Ukrainian, who worked for private maritime security company (PMSC) Alphard, this week broke into the armoury onboard the Golden Palm, operated by Spain’s Palm Charters, and took the crew hostage again in his fight over back pay.

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EU NAVFOR Somalia reacts on possible hijacking of a ship at the Horn of Africa

Rota, August 21st, 2020

EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta has completed incident response procedures in response to a possible act of piracy off the Coast of Somalia with the support of a Japanese aircraft of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and in close coordination with local authorities in Somalia.

On August 18th, EU NAVFOR OHQ Joint Operations Centre detected suspicious movements when Panama flagged MT “AEGIAN II”, a chemical/oil tanker with armed security guards on board in transit from Shajah (UAE) and bound for Mogadishu (Somalia) altered her course without any apparent reason. Expeditious investigations conducted by a EU NAVFOR maritime patrol aircraft including radio contact, concluded that the vessel was having technical problems and the crew was safe.

On August 20th, open sources reported that a vessel could have been hijacked in the same area. EU NAVFOR Somalia connected this information to the situation of the MT “AEGEN II”, previously monitored, and ESPS Santa Maria was detached to investigate and execute incident response procedures with the support of a CMF aircraft.

ESPS Santa Maria approached the Panama-flagged MT “AEGEAN II” and confirmed the initial assessment that the reported suspicious movements were due to damages in the hull caused by rough sea. Contacted by EU NAVFOR OP ATALANTA Force Commander, RDAM Villanueva, Bossaso port authority reported that MT “AEGEAN II” had not been hijacked and that Garadfoo police had been sent on board to inspect the vessel when she was drifting off Bereeda waiting for technical assistance.

While ESPS Santa Maria was collecting information, the Master revealed that there had been certain incidents on board the vessel. At this point, the event cannot be classified as a maritime security event, but a more detailed investigation is in progress.

MT “AEGEAN II” weighed anchor and is currently underway proceeding to an intermediate destination being closely monitored by ESPS Santa Maria.

This incident underlines, once again, the importance of EU NAVFOR Somalia’s presence at the Horn of Africa in the fulfilment of Operation ATALANTA’s mandate and that cooperation with local authorities, as well as other stakeholders in the region is essential to ensure freedom of navigation in the region.

In the light of this event, it is important to emphasize, once more, the importance of registering to MSCHOA’s Voluntary Registration Scheme. This will allow EU NAVFOR Somalia to monitor vessels in the area and use its assets in a more efficient way.

EU NAVFOR Somalia continues to urge the Maritime Industry to remain vigilant when transiting the high-risk area and to comply with the recommended Best Management Practises (BMP 5).


Iran Summons UAE Envoy over Shooting Incident

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The chargé d’affaires of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry over the UAE coast guard’s move to shoot at a number of Iranian fishing boats and the seizure of one of them in the Persian Gulf on August 17, 2020.

Right after the incident in which two fishermen were also killed, relevant Iranian officials put on their agenda an immediate investigation into the tragic event. After the situation on the ground was carefully examined, the UAE diplomat was summoned to the ministry in the early hours of the following days by the director of the International Legal Affairs Department of the ministry.

At the ministry, the Iranian official condemned the UAE vessels’ harassment of the Iranian fishing boats, saying the responsibility for this illegal and out-of-norm move rests with the UAE government.

He stressed that those arrested as well as the fishing boats seized must be released, and bodies of those killed must be handed over to Iran. The Iranian official also demanded compensation for the damage inflicted and called on the UAE to take the necessary measures to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The UAE charge daffaires, for his part, expressed regret over the incident, and underlined that he will inform Abu Dhabi of the developments accordingly.

In less than 24 hours, another meeting was also held between the UAE diplomat and the Iranian official to follow up on the outcome of the previous talks.

Following these developments in Tehran and thanks to efforts by the Iranian embassy in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi government sent an official note yesterday expressing deep sorrow over the incident and expressed its readiness to make up for all the damage inflicted.

Also, through the coordination of both countries’ border guards, the seized fishing boat and its crew were released. The legal procedure for delivering the bodies of those killed is underway.

Moreover, on the same day (August 17, 2020) a UAE vessel was intercepted and its crew arrested by Iranian border guard boats for illegally entering Iranian waters. Legal procedure is underway to look into the situation of the vessel.

The Foreign Ministry deems it necessary to once again announce to all countries in the Persian Gulf that the Islamic Republic of Iran brooks no encroachment upon its interests and no harassment of its nationals in the Persian Gulf, and will adopt all necessary measures to support its vessels and nationals.


Iranian hostages held by Somali pirates since 2015 freed: Adviser

The men are the last of the crew of Iranian fishing vessel FV Siraj, captured by the pirates on March 22, 2015.

Three Iranian hostages held by Somali pirates since 2015 have been freed, a senior maritime crime adviser told the Reuters news agency on Thursday.

The men are the last of the crew of the Iranian fishing vessel FV Siraj, which was captured by pirates on March 22, 2015.

The fourth member of the crew was freed last year as he needed urgent medical care.

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Pirates hijack Panama-flagged ship off Somalia coast

MarsecNews: This report has now been classified as not being a maritime security incident and EU NAVFOR has released a statement, which can be found by clicking here.

Pirates have hijacked a Panama-flagged ship that was travelling from the United Arab Emirates to Mogadishu port.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia had reduced significantly in recent years, in part because of extensive international military patrols.

This is the first attack for several years.

The ship was attacked at night when the crew was sleeping, Anadolu news agency quotes a security official in Somalia’s autonomous Puntland region as saying.

Six pirates were involved in the attack, according to the governor of Gardafu region in Puntland Musse Salah, who is quoted by Reuters news agency.

The authorities of the Bari region where the incident happened say the ship had developed mechanical problems.


France Hands Over Command of CTF 150 to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

File image of an approach on a dhow

Captain Riviere of the French Marine Nationale handed over Command of CTF 150 to Rear Admiral Alfaqeeh of the Saudi Royal Naval Force in a virtual ceremony.

The CTF 150 (Combined Task Force 150) mission is to disrupt criminal and terrorist organisations and their mandated related illicit activities by restricting their freedom of manoeuvre in the maritime domain. The task force’s activities deny criminal and terrorist organisations a method of conducting operations or moving personnel, weapons or income-generating narcotics and charcoal.

Speaking via video link at the conference, Captain Riviere said, “I was very fortunate to be able to draw the CTF 150 team from not only France, but also the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, building a combined, diverse and effective staff made up of professionals from three very capable nations.”

“To my team, I thank you for your committed support, your hard work, and determination in making these four months a success.”

This was the eleventh occasion that the French Marine Nationale has Commanded the task force to support CMF’s maritime security mission in the region, continuing to support 17 ships and operations at sea throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic.

After four months of leading CTF 150, Captain Riviere passed the baton onto Rear Admiral Alfaqeeh of the Saudi Royal Naval Force, who has an accomplished military record  spanning almost thirty years. He has commanded ships and squadrons, and has served tours in the West Fleet, as well as experience commanding in a coalition.

Rear Admiral Alfaqeeh said: “It is such a great opportunity to work and represent my country with such a professional and enthusiastic team. Our team members come from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

“We will all do our best to execute and accomplish the Task Force’s mission in collaboration with a coalition of ships from multiple countries.”

During the virtual ceremony, Vice Admiral Malloy, Commander of Combined Maritime Forces, congratulated Captain Riviere and his team: “Captain Riviere, you and everyone under your leadership should be proud of your lasting contribution to global security.

“As the eleventh French Officer to lead this CTF, you represented your country with operational excellence, dedication and integrity, and we are grateful for your leadership and your wisdom.”

He went on to welcome the Saudi-led task force: “Admiral, under your leadership, I have no doubt that CTF 150 will maintain a high level of vigilance and excellence required to set the watch, assuring the merchant community of our unblinking commitment while deterring illicit activity in our area of operations.”

France is handing over its eleventh Command of CTF 150. This will be the Saudi Royal Naval Force’s second Command of the Task Force.