Headlines: Somalia – hijacked Turkish bulk carrier released by pirates; Gulf of Aden – suspicious skiff boarded; USCG – seafarers’ shore access; MARAD – CPA vessel self-designations; CRS – report on Advanced Spectroscopic Portal Program; Canada – proposal to improve security on domestic ferries; South Africa – AU meeting of maritime transport ministers; UN – three more nations sign Rotterdam Rules; USCG – High HDOP Advisory; Houston Ship Channel – update on spill response; Australia – update re offshore oil spill; and Hijacking of the Achille Lauro – 7 October 1985.
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Somalia – hijacked Turkish bulk carrier released by pirates
The EU Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that the Turkish bulk carrier Horizon 1, hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on July 8, has been released. The NATO Task Force Turkish warship TCG Gediz is escorting the vessel to safety away from the Somalian coast. (10/6/09).
Gulf of Aden – suspicious skiff boarded
The EU Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that a merchant vessel transiting the Gulf of Aden reported a skiff approaching to within 300 meters. An armed helicopter was launched from a nearby warship. The skiff departed at high speed. When the skiff disobeyed an order to stop, the helicopter fired warning shots. The skiff stopped and was boarded. No weapons or ladders were found, but 13 fuel drums were discovered. The persons on the skiff stated that they were fishermen, but no fishing gear was found. They were warned about high speed approaches to merchant vessels and then allowed to depart because there was no solid evidence that they were pirates. (10/6/09).
USCG – seafarers’ shore access
The US Coast Guard issued an internal directive reminding Captains of the Port (COTPs) to review facility security plans to ensure that each plan includes appropriate provision for seafarers’ shore access for such activities as shore leave and crew change. The directive refers to a recent Shore Leave Survey conducted by the Seamen’s Church Institute, which highlights some of the challenges that seafarers are facing in this regard. The Coast Guard is considering a possible regulatory change to address this important issue. ALCOAST 575/09 (10/2/09).
MARAD – CPA vessel self-designations
The Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued a notice announcing the applications received from owners and operators of vessels seeking designation as either a dry bulk carrier or a dry cargo liner for purposes of the Cargo Preference Act (CPA). Comments on the requested self-designations should be submitted by October 19. 74 Fed. Reg. 51655 (October 7, 2009).
CRS – report on Advanced Spectroscopic Portal Program
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released its report on the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) Program. The ASP is a next-generation device for the non-intrusive detection of nuclear and radiological material. It is intended to be used primarily at border crossings to detect illicit nuclear material while minimizing the impact on commerce. The speed of ASP development and deployment, the readiness of ASP technology, and the potential benefits of the ASP program relative to its cost have been continuing issues for Congress, the Department of Homeland Security, and the maritime industry. RL34750 (9/3/09).
Canada – proposal to improve security on domestic ferries
Transport Canada issued a media release stating that it has proposed regulations to improve security for domestic ferry services. Operators of domestic ferries would be required to have security plans in place to help detect security threats and take preventive measures against security incidents. Most domestic ferry operators have voluntarily adopted such measures, which are similar to those in place for international ferry operators. (10/5/09).
South Africa – AU meeting of maritime transport ministers
The South Africa Department of Transport is hosting the African Union (AU) Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Maritime Transport in Durban on 12-16 October 2009. (10/6/09).
UN – three more nations sign Rotterdam Rules
The United Nations issued a press release stating, in pertinent part, that during the five-day 2009 Treaty Event in New York, three more nations signed the Rotterdam Rules: Madagascar, Cameroon, and Armenia. Sixteen nations (Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, and the United States of America) signed the new UN Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea (otherwise known as the Rotterdam Rules) when it opened for signature at a formal ceremony in Rotterdam on September 23. The Rules will come into effect one year after being ratified by at least 20 nations. They are intended to update and replace the Hague, Hague-Visby, and Hamburg Rules. (9/30/09).
USCG – High HDOP Advisory
The US Coast Guard Navigation Center issued a High Horizontal Dilution of Precision (HDOP) Advisory stating that GPS users in certain parts of the world may experience a short period of high HDOP/PDOP on October 8 as a result of a routine Delta-V maneuver with satellite #52 (PRN-31). (10/6/09).
Houston Ship Channel – update on oil spill response
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that responders continue efforts to clean the Houston Ship Channel following the September 25 spill of approximately 10,500 gallons of fuel oil in an allision. The affected area is open to navigation, but traffic is restricted to a safe transit speed and deep draft vessels are prohibited from nighttime turning in the basin. (10/5/09).
Australia – update re offshore oil spill
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) issued a media release stating that leakage of oil from the Montara well head platform continues. A light sheen extends generally toward the east and has been observed within 160 kilometers of the Western Australia coast and within 120 kilometers of the Indonesian coast. Officials in Indonesia are being kept fully informed. Response efforts continue. (10/6/09).
Hijacking of the Achille Lauro – 7 October 1985
On 7 October 1985, four members of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro as it was in the Mediterranean Sea en route from Alexandria, Egypt to Port Said. After the Israeli Government refused their demand for release of 50 imprisoned Palestinians, they killed disabled American passenger Leon Klinghoffer and threw him and his wheelchair overboard. The terrorists surrendered to Egyptian officials and boarded a flight to Tunisia. The flight was intercepted by US Navy fighter aircraft and was forced to land in Italy. The four hijackers were arrested by the Italian Government but their alleged leader, Abu Abbas, was allowed to depart. This incident awakened governments around the world and the IMO to the security threats faced by passenger vessels.
If you have questions regarding the above items, please contact the editor:
Dennis L. Bryant
Bryant’s Maritime Consulting
4845 SW 91st Way
Gainesville, FL 32608-8135
© Dennis L. Bryant – October 2009