(ICYMI) Coalition destroys Houthi-laid marine mines in southern Red Sea

Original article posted on Nov. 27th.

DUBAI: The Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen said it destroyed two mines laid by Houthis in the south of the Red Sea, state television Al Ekhbariya reported on Friday.

The actions of the Houthi militia, according to the coalition, threatened maritime security in Bab Al-Mandab and the southern Red Rea. The coalition said a total of 166 marine mines were removed and destroyed.

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Source: arabnews.com

Ruling delayed in Seychelles top court on whether case should be dismissed against 5 suspected Somali pirates

Only three out of the five Somali suspects appeared in court on Monday while the other two are receiving medical assistance. (Rassin Vannier)

By: Salifa Karapetyan Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame

(Seychelles News Agency) – Five Somali nationals suspected of piracy will be held an additional 14 days and reappear before the Seychelles Supreme Court on December 10 for a decision on whether the case should be dismissed.

Justice Gustave Dodin was supposed to give a ruling on Friday but according to the lawyer representing the Somalis, Joel Camille, “the judge has asked for some more time so that he can conclude the ruling.”

“When the prosecution had called all its witnesses, we submitted a ‘no case to answer’, which means that we told the court that the prosecution does not have enough evidence against the Somali nationals so the charges should be dismissed and they should be released,” said Camille.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta transferred the five suspects to Seychellois authorities after responding to piracy attacks on April 21 last year.

The suspects were transported by Spanish flagship ESPS Navarra and transferred to Seychellois authorities in accordance with a transfer agreement between the Seychelles and the European Union with support from UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The incident began on April 19, 2019 when five suspected pirates captured a Yemeni dhow off the coast of Somalia. Two days later the pirates attacked the Korean fishing vessel Adria with the dhow acting as a mothership in the Indian Ocean some 280 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia.

The case which started on September 9 was to be heard for a month but due to restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, witnesses form Spain were unable to physically appear in court to give their evidence; the process was carried out via videolink. Seychellois witnesses from the police force physically appeared before the court to give their evidence.

To ensure that the legal process is fair, a representative of the UNODC has been present during the case hearings. Her duty was also to look after the welfare of the accused.

Camille said that the ruling might have been pushed to a later date due to an increase in workload as the year is coming to an end.

“Judge Dodin gave us a guarantee that on December 10 he will give his ruling. I feel that the court will rule in my favour as I am still convinced that the evidence presented were not enough against the Somali national and the court will dismiss the case against them,” said Camille.

Seychelles is east of the Somali coast and has placed itself at the forefront of the fight against piracy since 2005 when the scourge began expanding, adversely impacting the nation’s tourism and fishing industries, the top pillars of its economy. The island nation in the western Indian Ocean has since then been working with international partners to apprehend and prosecute suspected Somali pirates.

Somaliland and Seychelles signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the transfer of sentenced pirates in 2011. With special jurisdiction to handle piracy and maritime crime cases, Seychelles started hearing cases in June 2015.

Source: seychellesnewsagency.com

Maritime surveillance network to safeguard Indian waters

Shirish Nadkarni

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and French agency CNES (National Centre for Space Studies) have forged an alliance to set up a network of satellites for maritime surveillance to help detect, identify and track ships in the Indian Ocean, in order to safeguard Indian waters from the unwanted attention of pirates and hostile ships.

This was revealed by Vice-Admiral Pradeep Chauhan in the course of his talk on ‘India as a Net Security Provider – Indian Ocean Region and Beyond; Maritime Security and the Blue Economy’ during the concluding session of the two-day Inmex SMM Virtual Expo, last week.

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Source: seatrade-maritime.com

Huge cache of drugs seized from Sri Lanka-bound vessel

S. Vijay Kumar

The Indian Coast Guard intercepted a boat carrying a huge quantity of heroin and some foreign nationals off the Thoothukudi coast early on Wednesday. Preliminary enquiry revealed that the suspects were armed and transporting the narcotics consignment to Sri Lanka.

Defence vessels have stepped up surveillance along the eastern seaboard since Tuesday to assist fishermen in distress ahead of Cyclone Nivar. While it was not clear whether the boat was intercepted by chance or after a specific input, a senior official said initial reports confirmed the presence of foreign nationals in possession of a huge quantity of drugs.

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Source: thehindu.com

Oil tanker hit by blast at Saudi terminal, Saudi Arabia confirms

By ,

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) – An explosion damaged a Greek-managed tanker at a Saudi Arabian terminal on the Red Sea just north of the Yemeni border, the ship’s manager said on Wednesday, in an attack confirmed by Saudi Arabia.

In a statement published by state media, the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen said a commercial vessel suffered minor damage from shrapnel in what it described as a foiled terrorist attack.

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Source: uk.reuters.com

MarsecNews: This incident comes just two days after Saudi coalition forces destroyed a number of sea mines in the Red Sea. Click here for details.

Yemeni officials repeat warnings over Safer oil tanker

Saeed Al-Batati

AL-MUKALLA: Iran-backed Houthi’s use of naval mines and bomb boats, and the group’s resistance to maintaining the Safer tanker are serious threatens to international maritime traffic and ecological life in the Red Sea, senior Yemeni officials warned on Monday.

The officials repeated concerns about the collapse of the tanker, urging the international community to act now to avert a major disaster in the Red Sea.

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Source: arabnews.com

PMSA seizes huge quantity of hashish, arrests four

KARACHI – The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) arrested four drug traffickers and seized huge quantity of drugs during an operation conducted in open sea.

Addressing a news conference at the PMSA headquarters, Commander and Director (Public Relations) Usman Amjad of the Agency said that the PMSA intercepted a suspicious vessel in open sea, and during its checking recovered 1,372 kg of hashish on board and arrested four accused.

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Source: nation.com.pk

Saudi Arabia thwarts Houthi explosive bomb attack on oil facilities

File image of suspected Houthi SVBIED (boat bomb), via http://crfimmadagascar.org

Associated Press reported on Friday 13th November that Saudi officials had been quoted as saying that they had intercepted and thwarted an apparent attempt to disrupt oil supplies at an Aramco oil distribution centre in the Red Sea.

The report cites a Saudi Press Agency report which said:

“Coalition Navy Forces detected this evening (Wednesday, 11 November 2020) an attempt by the terrorist Houthi militia to carry out a hostile, terrorist act in Southern Red Sea using (2) bomb-laden Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) launched from Hodeida Governorate.

“The USVs, which pose a threat to regional and international security, Sea Lines of Communication and International Trade, were destroyed.”

The deployment of remote controlled ‘boat bombs’ is not a new one and al Houthis have demonstrated their effectiveness in the past. However, this is the second incident of SVBIED in recent weeks and should concern all shipping which transits the region.

Combined Maritime Forces seize over one tonne of hashish in drugs bust

Media Release

A French ship working in support of a Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) task force has seized over one tonne of hashish worth $8 million, 8 November 20.

Sailors on board French Ship Floréal, the lead Floréal-class frigate, captured the drugs from a suspicious vessel during a counter-narcotics operation in the Arabian Sea’s infamous ‘Hash Highway’.

The ship was operating in support of CMF’s Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) at the time of the seizure, which comes just weeks after a Royal Navy ship working as part of a CTF 150 operation intercepted over 450kg of methamphetamine.

“This seizure marks yet another successful drugs bust by CTF 150,” said the task force’s Commander, Rear Admiral Sulieman Alfakeeh of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces. “With two successful drugs seizures in a matter of weeks, we are proving that we are a formidable force against drug smugglers, keeping millions of dollars of illegal substances off the streets.”

A team of French sailors conducted the boarding of the suspicious vessel, which was sailing along a route known for transiting drugs.

The one tonne haul of hashish was well-hidden on board the vessel and required an extensive search by the highly trained boarding team, made even more challenging by the threat of COVID.  The ship’s medical team was responsible for decontaminating all personnel and all equipment to ensure the safety of its personnel was maintained.

This drugs seizure marks another success in a long string of CMF activities; in addition to the historic Royal Navy methamphetamine seizure in October, last month the USS Winston S. Churchill assisted an Iranian-flagged motor vessel in distress while in support of CTF 150. In the last few days, the French Ship Jean Bart, alongside the Japanese Ship Ariake, operating under a CTF 151 tasking, provided the medical evacuation of an injured mariner.

“The Combined Maritime Forces is founded on a shared commitment to ensuring the safety of all legitimate mariners at sea,” said Commodore Dean Bassett Royal Navy, Deputy Commander of the Combined Maritime Forces. “Sometimes this involves assisting those in distress, and other times it targets those who seek to use the maritime environment to conduct illegal activities such as terrorism, smuggling and piracy.”

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 150 operates to disrupt and deny criminal and terrorist organizations operating outside of the Arabian Gulf, to ensure that legitimate commercial shipping can transit the region, free from non-state threats. CTF 150 is currently led by the Royal Saudi Naval Force, the second time that the country’s Navy has led the task force.