The current practice of using Nigerian Navy (and Nigerian security forces in general) is coming under review by the Buhari presidency. The past and current Navy Chiefs of Staff have endeavoured to curtail activities which they feel is hollowing out the Navy’s capabilities without providing adequate returns. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) governs the conditions under which private security companies may access Nigerian Navy personnel.
In a nutshell: articles 5 and 6 of the Memorandum stipulate that any vessels upon which Nigerian Navy personnel is embarked must be "approved and inspected" by the Nigerian Navy, capable of taking a mounted weapon and be entered in the Nigerian fleet list. Only then is it allowed to contract navy personnel to man these vessels. It appears likely that the legal review undertaken by the current presidency will focus on compliance with the MoU.
The vast majority of MoU holders in Nigeria violate these stipulation by embarking navy personnel directly on client ships. There has been misleading guidance to the effect that the following is adequate in order to provide armed security in Nigerian waters:
- A Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps license (for guard companies)
- An MoU in the name of the PMSC
- A NIMASA license to operate as a Guard Force Security company in the Maritime Sector
- A Certificate of incorporation in Nigeria
- Evidence of an expatriate quota
Whilst this documentation is necessary to operate as a maritime security company, it does not in itself provide authorisation for embarking Nigerian Navy personnel on merchant vessels. Furthermore, the NSCDC license is reserved for unarmed guard services, hence all authorisation to operate hinges on compliance with the MoU. It is incorrect to use the term “legal”, since no legislation in Nigeria exists that regulates armed maritime security activity. Using authorisations other than that provided by the Navy Chief of Staff (through the MoU) and failure to comply with the stipulations of the MoU creates the risk of detentions and fines for ship operators.
Lastly, it should be remembered that the embarkation of armed security in the configuration of three to four man teams with light weapons provides little to no deterrence for those attackers which pose the greatest risk. Numerous firefights with casualties and boardings including kidnappings have demonstrated the increased risk by using embarked Nigerian security forces, e.g.:
- PYXIS DELTA (4 February 2013, Lagos) – one crewmember was killed in the crossfire between embarked security forces and attackers.
- SP BRUSSELS (29 April 2014, Niger Delta) – one crewmember was killed, one severely injured when two Nigerian Police Force embarked on the ship failed to prevent a boarding by pirates.
- SEA STERLING (26 August 2014, Niger Delta) – no casualties, but attackers managed to briefly board the vessel against the resistance of two Nigerian Navy ratings before a Nigerian Navy patrol vessel appeared on the scene.
- SEA VOYAGER (5 November 2014, Niger Delta) – possibly two naval ratings killed or injured when armed attackers boarded the ship. The soldiers fled into the citadel.
- JASCON 24 (23 January 2015, Niger Delta) – one naval rating was killed on the vessel which was actually functioning as a “security vessel” for an offshore oil & gas operation. The attackers managed to board the vessel and engaged the soldiers in a firefight. Two of the four soldiers embarked on the vessel fled into the citadel.
- KALAMOS (3 February 2015, Niger Delta) – one crewmember was killed by a Nigerian Navy rating who disobeyed the master’s order to hold fire during a hostage stand-off on the ship’s bridge. The attackers had boarded the ship undetected by the crew or the security detachment.
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Piracy and armed robbery against ships, corruption, and illegal trafficking are well-known maritime security challenges – now it is time to find solutions. On Tuesday, October 6th, an international conference organized for the second year in a row by the Danish Shipowners’ Association, Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), and Risk Intelligence, in cooperation with Clipper, will focus on the biggest and most pressing maritime security challenges facing the maritime industry and governments maritime security and aims to find new solutions to address these threats.
At the conference, which is a part of Danish Maritime Days, international maritime experts from both the public and private sectors will discuss regional maritime security challenges in West Africa and Southeast Asia – as well as identify opportunities for governments and the maritime industry to work together to address threats to maritime security. The agenda includes international keynote speakers, expert presentations, panel discussions, and workshops with a particular emphasis on interactive sessions aimed at engaging all participants and including their expertise and knowledge in the conference outputs.
“This year’s theme for the conference is ‘Regional Maritime Security Challenges and Opportunities for Governments and Industry’. It’s a unique opportunity that we can gather so many participants from the maritime sector with a shared interest in a common effort to address some of the most pressing maritime security challenges,” says Hans Tino Hansen, CEO of Risk Intelligence, who will provide a presentation outlining the current status of global maritime security challenges.
The recent increase in maritime piracy and armed robbery against ships in Southeast Asia, and persistent high levels of maritime crime in West Africa, are indications that addressing these costly threats to international trade and seafarers need fresh thinking and clear strategies. ”Security is extremely important for governments, shipping companies, seafarers, and everybody who works in the maritime sector – therefore it is crucial that we meet to discuss challenges and how we in common can solve them. That is rarely done across governmental and private stakeholders – which is why this conference is so important,” says Morten Glamsø, Senior Advisor at the Danish Shipowners’ Association.
Last year’s conference attracted more than 90 participants from 12 different countries, representing both public and private organizations and agencies, to discuss the effects of maritime crime on economic growth and development in Africa. “The conclusions last year showed that there are important lessons to be learned from the successful international effort to address Somali piracy. These must be retained in order to avoid a resurgence in attacks off the Horn of Africa, but may also have applications in other regions” says Jens Vestergaard Madsen, Senior Project Associate at OBP.
The conference takes place on October 6th from 0930 to 1615 at Clipper House in Copenhagen, and will be followed by an informal reception and networking session. Attendance is free, but registration is required and space is limited. More information about the agenda, speakers and how to register can be found at http://ow.ly/Rd7Lw.
DW (Deutsche Welle)
According to the International Maritime Bureau, the waters off the coasts of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore now contain the highest number of operating pirate networks in the world. This year alone, pirate attacks in Southeast Asia accounted for more than half of the world’s reported pirate attacks. In a recent interview with Germany’s international news broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Southeast Asia expert and Risk Intelligence senior analyst Karsten von Hoesslin sheds light on how Southeast Asia seemingly has become ‘a pirates’ paradise’.
To Deutsche Welle, von Hoesslin explains how it is a number of regional factors and conditions combined that has turned Southeast Asia into a hotspot for piracy. For one, the straits of Malacca, Singapore and in the South China Sea constitute some of the most trafficked and thus profitable maritime areas in the world. Further, a dense web of small and desolate islands in the region provides the perfect hideaway for pirates. And last, an underlying interstate distrust characterizing regional initiatives, coupled with weak and corrupt police units, have turned counter piracy efforts inefficient and mainly symbolic. Pirate networks have thus been allowed to proliferate and professionalize into ‘logistical masterpieces’, von Hoesslin explains: “Today, everything is pre-planned and is part of a larger criminal activity. It is very easy to counterfeit legal papers for the products such as palm oil, gas or petrol and to transport them.”
The proliferating piracy in Southeast Asia spreads insecurity for seafarers in the region and is estimated to cost millions of dollars every year. That pirate networks continue to evolve into professional crime syndicates, while regional initiatives remain no more than ‘gesture politics’ is thus highly problematic, von Hoesslin warns.
To learn more and read the full interview with von Hoesslin, click here.
Recently, Egypt inaugurated a major expansion to the Suez Canal during a large national ceremony. Before the inauguration Danish maritime magazine ShippingWatch interviewed CEO and founder of Risk Intelligence, Hans Tino Hansen, about the maritime security risks facing the new canal.
Several security experts have argued the new Suez Canal to be an obvious target for terrorist groups, such as Islamic State. And in Egypt, thirteen people were recently arrested for being under suspicion of plotting bombings on the canal. Commenting on the likelihood of an attack on the new Suez Canal, Hans Tino Hansen told ShippingWatch: “IS will probably try to hit the canal. It is doubtful how much damage they can actually cause, beyond creating insecurity. And while insecurity is also what they aim for we do not, at the moment, estimate Islamic State or any other radical groups to have the capacity to fully halt operations in the canal.”
Hans Tino Hansen further underlined that while increased attacks on ships in the new canal is a significant risk, the effects of a ship attacks are usually, among radical Islamist groups, considered to be minor compared to the effort it takes to conduct such attacks. Inland attacks are known to be much more efficient. Yet, it cannot be excluded, Hansen ads, that someone would attempt an attack just to show that they can.
To read the whole interview, click here. Note that the interview is only available in Danish.
Risk Intelligence senior analyst and West Africa expert Dirk Steffen has published an essay on the US Naval Institute’s online news and analysis portal (USNI News), where he challenges mainstream piracy analysis based on incident counts: ‘Quantifying Piracy Trends in the Gulf of Guinea — Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong?’ He examines how public and private organizations quantify and record incidents of armed robbery, piracy and other maritime security risks in the Gulf of Guinea, and how such quantifications shape differing and often contrasting perceptions of maritime security and stakeholder responses to it.
Mismatching security perceptions are common in the Gulf of Guinea. While the International Maritime Bureau recently published a report concluding a drop of 18% of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, large insurance companies and other organizations still perceive the gulf as a high-risk area and present data that shows significant increases in piracy-related incidents. To Steffen, the reason for such different security perceptions are to be found in the production of numbers and making of categories that, by being directed towards different commercial interests and stakeholders’ needs, often only presents one-sided dimensions of reality. Recording only “acts of piracy”, the International Maritime Organization for example, constitutes one organization presenting a narrow version of maritime insecurity directed for the most part against seafarers of foreign-trading ships. Using the numbers of the International Maritime Organization on the Gulf of Guinea is inadequate if one seeks a general understanding of West African maritime security patterns, writes Steffen. He emphasizes how maritime security in this region encompasses several nuanced and hard to define-challenges beyond piracy, but often closely related to it. Illegal bunkering, theft, various types of trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, for example all contribute to making maritime security risks hard to quantify through simple categories, but are essential for explaining piracy phenomena off the Gulf of Guinea coast.
Industry and stakeholders demand numbers and quantification upon which they can base risk assessments and this has led to an increase in maritime security and intelligence organizations offering such numbers, Steffen writes. While any increase in reporting and recording of maritime security incidents is to be welcomed, the utility of such figures is strongly reliant on the ability to recognize the different ways in which organizations quantify maritime insecurity and how and to which end they draw conclusions from it.
Steffen concludes that there remains a need to complement the quantitative data gathering on the Gulf of Guinea – and elsewhere – with qualitative assessments and a broader focus on the maritime security climate for meaningful forecasts and selection of mitigation measures. As Steffen writes, “numbers alone do not provide an understanding of a maritime security situation. The intelligence analysis behind them does.”
To read the full article, click here.