How Covid-19 has escalated the maritime drug trade – and what AI can do about it

HMS Defender and drugs haul

Adele Berti

Israeli maritime intelligence and predictive analytics company Windward is using artificial intelligence to identify and pinpoint Europe-bound vessels that might be illicitly carrying drugs for distribution in the continent.

Spearheaded by CEO Ami Daniel, a local entrepreneur with a background serving in the navy, the company bids to speed up the digitalisation of the maritime sector by offering a predictive intelligence solution that relies on AI and big data for a range of applications including safety, security and finance.

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Source: ship-technology.com

MDAT-GoG issues attack alert

After two initial alerts overnight, MDAT-GoG has updated its latest report to the following:

1. CATEGORY: ATTACK IN PROGRESS

2. TIME: 23 Oct 2020 0730UTC.

3. DESCRIPTION: MDAT-GOG has received an SSAS alert from a MV which may be under attack in this position 043812N 0032818E. Local authorities are aware of this situation. Please be advised this is the last confirmed position of this vessel and is several hours late.

4. POSITION: 043812N – 0032818E.

There was clear concern when no update was received from the vessel, which Dryad Global believe is the tanker, MT Errina, which led some media outlets to speculate that it had been hijacked. However, this remains unconfirmed and we await an update from MDAT-GoG on the vessel and crew’s status. The new position was confirmed by the vessel’s AIS, according to MDAT-GoG.

CTF151 and Pakistan Navy hold talks ahead of CTF Command takeover

Media release

The Turkish-led Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) held a recent engagement with the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Ops) of the Pakistan Navy, two months ahead of the Pakistan takeover of CTF 151 command.

Rear Admiral Nejat Inanir of the Turkish Navy, the Commander of the Combined Maritime Forces’ CTF 151, followed the current Covid-19 trend of using Zoom conference calling to discuss matters of mutual cooperation and security in the region. Pakistan will be assuming command of CTF 151 in December for a record ninth time, marking this time as a key preparation period.

RAdm Inanir thanked the longstanding support and contribution of the Pakistan Navy to the Combined Maritime Forces for its provision of personnel and maritime assets which contribute to counter piracy operations in the region.

“I am so pleased to see Pakistan contribute to CMF so effectively. Their support aids how we maintain maritime security and ensure the free flow of commercial maritime trade,” said RAdm Inanir said. “We are seeing a large increase in small vessel activity now that the monsoon season is transitioning and it’s vital that CTF 151 continues to suppress any piracy activity early.”

Cdre Faisal commended the strong leadership of Turkish-led CTF 151:  “All support will be provided to CTF 151 for Counter Piracy Operations as and when required,” he said.

Both Commanders agreed to provide further assistance and collaboration to achieve their common goal of providing maritime security in the region and making the seas safe for legitimate mariners and seafarers.

The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) is a multinational maritime partnership which exists to counter illicit non-state actors on the high seas, promoting security, stability and prosperity in the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman. CTF 151 is one of three CMF task forces with the mission to deter piracy across the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Oman, protecting the free flow of maritime commerce. Pakistan last led CTF 151 in 2016.

ENDS

 

Royal Navy seizes over 450kg in the largest methamphetamine drug bust in the Middle East

Sailors and Royal Marines from HMS Montrose intercepted over 450 kilograms of methamphetamine, with a wholesale value of £18 million, during a counter-narcotics operation in the Arabian Sea.

From:

The operation, which was part of the Combined Maritime Forces’ (CMF) Operation SEA SHIELD, was an international effort involving several of the CMF’s 33 member nations and partners.

In rough seas, and aided by the ship’s Wildcat helicopter, sailors and Royal Marines conducted the boarding of the suspicious vessel, and during an extensive search discovered the 450kg haul hidden amongst the boat’s cargo.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said:

Following several large drugs busts by the Royal Navy in the Caribbean, HMS Montrose has conducted the most successful counter-methamphetamine operation ever in the Middle East.

Organised crime funds terrorism and by preventing these drugs reaching the open market HMS Montrose has directly interrupted illegal activity that causes considerable harm across the globe.

Intercepting and boarding suspicious vessels at sea is a skilled operation, made more challenging by the threat of COVID. The ship’s medical team was responsible for de-contaminating all personnel and equipment, and specialist PPE was used throughout the boarding process.

Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose Commander Charles Collins said:

Every sailor and marine, airman and woman, alongside our international partners, should be proud to have contributed to the success of this operation which has undoubtedly kept millions of pounds of drugs off our streets.

With four Mine Countermeasure Vessels, a forward deployed Type 23 Frigate and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship permanently deployed in the Middle East, the Royal Navy remains committed to keeping the region’s critical sea lanes free from illegal activity in order to maintain maritime security.

The Royal Marine Boarding Team’s Officer Commanding from 42 Commando Lt Joe Martin said:

For many of the Royal Marines in the team, this was their first operational tasking. It’s good to see all of our hard work and training come to fruition in an operational environment where we are truly making a positive impact to regional maritime security.

CMF is a multinational maritime partnership that works to counter illicit non-state actors in the Gulf region, promoting stability and security across some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. The main focus is counter-narcotics, counter-smuggling, supressing piracy and encouraging regional co-operation in order to promote overall security and stability in the region.

Source: gov.uk

Pirates Cart Away 16 Fishermen’s Boats In Andoni

By: Chinedu Wosu

Rampaging armed sea pirates terrorising fishermen in Andoni communities in Rivers State have carted away 16 engine boats belonging to fishermen in the area. The sea robbers who have been terrorising waterways in the communities also attacked the helpless fishermen and made away with their valuables.

The attacks happened at the weekend, with no arrest made by the Marine Police or the Navy.
The attacks created fears among the fishermen from Oyorokoto community, making some of them desert the river for safety.

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Source: thetidenewsonline.com

Do not switch off the AIS in Nigerian waters

Despite the elevated piracy risk in the Gulf of Guinea, ships operating in the region should maintain their automatic identification systems (AIS) in operation at all times.

On 5 October 2020, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) issued a notice warning its clients and other stakeholders that the Nigerian Navy will investigate, and has arrested, ships that switch off their automatic identification system (AIS) when operating in Nigerian waters. It further reminds masters of their obligations under SOLAS Reg.V/19 to maintain their AIS in operation at all times, when underway or at anchor. The NNPC notice can be viewed here.

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Source: gard.no

Two GoG incidents reported over weekend

Media reports state that a vessel believed to be the LNG carrier, Methane Princess, was attacked by pirates on Saturday 17th October, off Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Sources suggest that two crew were initially kidnapped, with one managing to escape from the pirates before they fled the area.

On Sunday Oct. 18th, MDAT-GoG issued an alert that pirates had boarded a merchant vessel off Lome, Gulf of Guinea, in position 040858N-0012400E at 1100 UTC. They later updated to report that all crew were reported as safe and that the vessel was being escorted to Lome by Togolese Navy assets. Dryad Global has identified the vessel as the PTI Nile.

 

Troops impound stolen products, destroy illegal refining sites in South-South

The Defence Headquarters says the troops of Operation Delta Safe have impounded a large quantity of stolen petroleum products and destroyed many illegal refining sites in the South-South zone in the last one week.

The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, stated this while giving the weekly update on the activities of the military across theatres of operation on Thursday in Abuja.

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Source: guardian.ng

Iranian Ports Operating Normally after Cyberattack

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran said it has foiled a cyberattack on the electronic infrastructures of the seaports.

The Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran announced in a statement that its information technology experts have thwarted a cyberattack targeting the electronic infrastructures of the Iranian ports.

All missions and activities of the Ports and Maritime Organization are going on normally, the statement added, noting that online services are being provided to prevent any disruption to the freight services or loading and unloading operations even for a moment.

Last month, an official said the export of non-oil commodities in the first half of the current Iranian year via the southeastern port city of Chabahar has risen by 95 percent compared to the corresponding period a year earlier.

Chabahar is the closest and best access point of Iran to the Indian Ocean and Iran has devised serious plans to turn it into a transit hub for immediate access to markets in the northern part of the Indian Ocean and Central Asia.

Source: tasnimnews.com

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