1) BW Rhine Released from Pirate Control, Cargo Stolen2) Somali pirates are switching back to using smaller cargo and fishing boats as motherships, hoping to evade detection as maritime security is stepped up to foil their attacks on merchant vessels, industry and navy sources say. By gCaptain Staff On BW Danube, image courtesy BW Shipping After a four days under the control of west African pirates, BW Shipping reports that the product tanker, BW Rhine, has been released off Nigeria by its captors. All 24 crew members are safe. “We are all very relieved and our immediate priority is to ensure the wellbeing of our employees,” says BW Maritime CEO Andreas Sohmen-Pao. Communcations were re-established with the vessel as of 0630 UTC on Friday. The Master of BW Rhine, Captain Dheeraj Sharma, confirmed that the vessel has been held under duress while the cargo was being stolen. BW Rhine is currently enroute to a nearby port, where support services have been arranged for the crew upon arrival. This is not the first pirate-related incident faced by BW Shipping. Last November, the BW Danube was nearly hijacked by a 8 pirates while transiting the Gulf of Aden. The onboard security team, coupled with vigilant watchstanders, led to the successful defense of the ship. In the case of the BW Rhine however, this is the first known hijack case of this nature in Lome, Togo, and it is unlikely a security team was on board at the time. The attack took place at a patrolled anchorage with a large number of other vessels in the area. A thorough investigation of the incident will be undertaken in the coming weeks and BW Shipping requests that respect is given to the privacy of the crew and their families after their ordeal.
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gCaptain StaffgCaptain is the top-visited maritime and offshore industry news blog in the world. Since 2006, gCaptain has proven to be a highly effective platform for information sharing and source for up-to-date and relevant news for industry professionals worldwide. With the prospect of ransoms worth tens of millions of dollars, Somali pirates continue to threaten vital shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. Over 20 years of war and famine have worsened prospects for Somalis, adding to the appeal for many young men of crime on the high seas. Armed gangs had started using large merchant vessels – including tankers – that they had seized as motherships, forcing crews by gunpoint to do their bidding. The tactic, employed agressively in 2011, enabled them to operate further out at sea. But vigorous action by navies, including pre-emptive strikes, have cut attacks, forcing pirates to adapt their model. “We are seeing a change in tactics,” said Joe Angelo, managing director with INTERTANKO, an association whose members own the majority of the world’s oil tanker fleet. “They are now hijacking smaller dhows and they are using them as motherships which is making them less suspicious.” Traditional dhows, used by fishermen and general merchants in the region, were first deployed by Somali pirates before they started using larger captured vessels. The larger vessels enabled gangs to operate for longer periods at sea with more supplies and in harsher weather conditions, as well giving them more flexibility when launching their high speed attack craft known as skiffs. “The tactic of using larger commercial vessels as motherships has died down recently as dhows are more effective; they are essentially camouflaged amongst the huge numbers of genuine fishing boats and dhows carrying cargo locally off the Horn of Africa,” said Rory Lamrock, an intelligence analyst with security firm AKE. “Weapons and ladders can be easily jettisoned overboard whenever naval forces approach, making it difficult for navies to disrupt. When a larger vessel gets hijacked for use as a mothership, it is usually well reported and naval forces and commercial ships in the area will be on the lookout.” Data this week from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) watchdog showed attacks involving Somali pirates in the first quarter of this year had slid to 43, from 97 incidents in the same period last year. The deployment of private armed security guards and greater use of pirate deterrents such as razor wire and heightened monitoring watches when entering danger areas by crews on board also helped curb Somali attacks. “While the number of 2012 incidents and hijackings are less … it is unlikely that the threat of Somali piracy will diminish in the short to medium term unless further actions are taken,” the IMB said. A study published in February by U.S. non-governmental organisation One Earth Future Foundation showed Somali piracy cost the world economy some $7 billion last year. The total paid in ransoms reached $160 million, with an average ransom for a ship rising to $5 million, from around $4 million in 2010. Ship industry officials said pirates were attempting more diverse attacks and were pushing further into the northern Gulf of Oman to prey on areas not so heavily patrolled. “I personally believe what is going on are random acts where they can be successful,” said INTERTANKO’s Angelo. AKE’s Lamrock said over the past six months there had been five incidents in the northern Gulf of Oman, three of which were further north than the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, towards the vital Strait of Hormuz oil choke point. “It seems more likely that pirates will focus on opportunistically targeting vessels transiting through the Gulf,” Lamrock said. Despite successful efforts to quell attacks and disrupt pirate camps, international naval forces have limited resources to patrol vast distances. “We are seeing pirates using dhows as motherships – we are monitoring that. They are having to constantly adapt their procedures,” said Lt Cdr Jacqueline Sherriff, spokeswoman with the European Union’s counter piracy force. “The Indian Ocean is vast. We are focusing our efforts on the areas that they have been in the past and we are having success.” Sherriff said navies faced the challenge of monitoring large amounts of legitimate dhow traffic passing through the region. “There are hundreds of them going about their legal trade and we have to be very careful with our intelligence who we target.”
UK: IMO Calls Heads of State to Engage with Global Fight Against Piracy
International Maritime Organization secretary-general Koji Sekimizu has called on heads of state to engage with the global fight against piracy, saying that ministerial discussions have failed to deliver the political will needed to tackle the problem effectively.
Addressing a shipping industry event at which participants voiced frustration about soaring levels of piracy since 2008, Mr Sekimizu said that the way forward for the UN body was to debate the issue at national government level.
“I can share the frustrations,” Mr Sekimizu said. “The IMO is talking to as many governments as possible at as high levels as possible.
“If we raise the issue to the top of the government, instead of the ministerial level, that may generate political will to solve the problems.”
Most national governments have restricted discussion of their counter-piracy measures to ministerial level, leading many within the shipping industry to criticise the European Union, the UN and the US for lacking political will to fight pirates, especially in Somalia.
Governments should put in more effort to solve piracy issues, as shipping is critical to the global economy, said Mr Sekimizu, as he urged governments to consider the safety of “over 1.5m seafarers, working day in and day out”.
Next month, the IMO will hold a conference to discuss measures to counter piracy off Somalia.
Talking points will include use of armed guards, information sharing, law-enforcement training and national legislation to combat piracy.
In particular, the IMO hopes to develop guidance for deployment of private maritime security firms as many countries are seeking to regulate use of armed guards.
Mr Sekimizu, who assumed his post in January, said he hoped member states and the European Union would attract high-level participation to move things forward.
“I hope those conferences will end in good results,” he said.d