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Dryad: Gulf of Guinea Poses Ongoing Threat of Seafarer Kidnap

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The Gulf of Guinea proved to be one of the most dangerous piracy hotpots for mariners, according to maritime intelligence agency Dryad’s maritime crime figures for Quarter 1 (January to March) of 2015.

Namely, kidnapping of crew for ransom remains the most significant threat to mariners in the region. In March 2015, eight crew were taken in three separate incidents off the shores of Rivers and Akwa Ibom States in Nigeria. Three mariners have since been released from captivity after being taken from MT Kalamos on 03 March. A crewmember died by gunfire during the incident. Another five crew were kidnapped in attacks against support vessel MV Maridive 603 and floating storage tanker MT Yoho, Dryad informed.

There have been no reported kidnappings off Bayelsa State, Nigeria in the first quarter of this year, a historical hotbed for such crime. MV Jascon 24 was attacked in late January in this area; a Nigerian naval rating was shot and killed during that incident, which was almost certainly another attempt at taking crew for ransom. The threat of kidnap in both regions of Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom’s offshore waters remains, and further attacks are likely, Dryad said.

There has been a single incident of cargo theft thus far in the Gulf of Guinea this year when maritime criminals took a small product tanker MT Mariam off the coast of Warri on 11 January. The Ghanaian Navy eventually detained the vessel on 17 January and eight armed pirates were arrested. The threat to product tankers of hijacking and theft of their cargo remains.

A further incident of note was when bulk carrier MV Ocean Splendor was fired upon and boarded by eight armed pirates over 150 NM south east of Accra, Ghana on 14 Jan. Some of the crew were assaulted as the gang ransacked the ship. Dryad believes that, given the number of pirates involved and the range at which this incident took place, it is highly probable that the gang’s initial motive for being in the area had been to target product tankers for cargo theft, with the absence of a suitable target leading to an opportunistic attack on Ocean Splendor.

Two weeks after the above incident, a large fishing vessel was hijacked 30 NM south of Takoradi, Ghana for just such a purpose. The gang had intended to use the vessel as a mother ship from which to launch attacks against tankers, but having been pursued by maritime security vessels, they left the ship. One of the crew tragically drowned as he made his escape from the gang.

“Presidential elections held in Nigeria during the final week of March resulted in defeat for Goodluck Johnathan. Muhammadu Buhari is now tasked with fixing the economy, defeating Boko Haram, and also overcoming the corruption that is rife at all levels of authority within the country. We are unlikely to see any immediate relief in the maritime domain as the new president gets to grips with significant political and security challenges on land,” Dryad added.

There were no confirmed incidents in the Indian Ocean HRA.

Q1 has seen a rise in the number of reported incidents in South America and the Caribbean with 13 reported incidents. Maritime crime has been reported in the waters of Columbia, Venezuela, Honduras, Brazil and throughout the Caribbean.

Two of these incidents were boardings and robberies from MVs at anchor in Cartagena, Columbia. The remainder were robberies from sailing and pleasure craft. Instances of petty theft from MVs around the area are reported regularly, but not in the numbers seen in Southeast Asia.

The present economic decline in Venezuela could lead to a rise in criminal activity around the coastline. Theft from yachts and small pleasure craft, although known to happen regularly, are seldom reported on international databases.

“However, so far in 2015 we have seen a marked increase in reporting mainly from yachting websites, many of these incidents involve the use of violence. Dryad has no evidence to suggest that crime in Latin America and the Caribbean will develop in the near future to more frequent attacks on larger vessels. If it did, it would most likely resemble the majority of low-level incidents seen in Southeast Asia, rather than the more serious kidnap or hijack seen in the Gulf of Guinea or Indian Ocean,” the maritime intelligence agency said.

Dryad reported a reduction from the high number of incidents in South East Asia from 75 in Q4 2014 to 56 in Q1 2015. Although the total number of incidents are down by 36% when compared to the last quarter of 2014, there has been a continuation of attacks against vessels underway in the Singapore Strait, Dryad said.

Speaking of the Mediterranean, the ongoing humanitarian crisis is having an effect on normal shipping trading operations in the region, as more migrants from Libya venture into the seas amid extremely unstable political and military situation in the country.

World Maritime News

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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