Combined Maritime Forces — Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Arunta has seized more than 250kg of heroin hidden in a dhow transiting the North West Indian Ocean.
This seizure marks the second successful narcotics interdiction for Arunta since the frigate commenced its counter-terrorism mission as part of Combined Task Force 150 in December 2016.
In March this year the warship seized 800kg of hashish.
Commanding Officer HMAS Arunta, Commander Cameron Steil RAN said:
“While the smugglers continue to try new techniques for hiding narcotics, our boarding parties have shown that their experience, training, and techniques are up to the task at hand.”
The Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft has repeatedly proven itself to be a key enabler in narcotics seizures.
The aircraft combs the CTF 150 Area of Operation that spans over two million square miles searching for suspicious dhows.
Information gathered on these patrols narrows the odds for ships like HMAS Arunta to intercept and board dhows across an ocean expanse twice as large as the Mediterranean Sea.
Rear Admiral Lebas, Commander CTF 150, said:
“This narcotics seizure demonstrates the determination and professionalism of the captain and crew of HMAS Arunta.
Units operating under the command of Combined Task Force 150 continue to remove significant quantities of narcotics from international markets, and so prevent criminal and terrorist organizations benefiting from the trade.”
HMAS Arunta is Australia’s major surface vessel for Operation MANITOU, part of the Australian Defence Force contribution to Combined Maritime Forces and CTF 150.
Established in 2002, CTF 150 is primarily focused on disrupting terrorist organisations and their activities by denying them the freedom of manoeuvre in the maritime domain.
In collaboration with international and regional maritime security partners, CTF 150 teams have seized and destroyed billions of dollars in drugs and captured thousands of weapons ensuring they are no longer available to organisations that would cause others harm.
Under a French lead, the staff of CTF 150 is the first combined French-UK command which operationalises the French-UK naval co-operation under the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF).
This framework was initiated in 2010 under the Lancaster House Agreement between Paris and London. The staff also includes officers from Belgium, Italy and Australia, and exercises command over ships and aircraft from several CMF participating nations.
Singapore-flagged tanker attacked off Somalia but escapes
AP — Mogadishu – An international anti-piracy force says a Singapore-flagged chemical tanker has exchanged fire with attackers off the coast of Somalia before escaping unharmed.
The European Union anti-piracy force says in a statement that the MT Leopard Sun was attacked by two skiffs early on Friday about 160 nautical miles off central Somalia. A private security team on the tanker fired warning shots and the skiffs turned away about 20 minutes later.
The Horn of Africa nation saw a brief resurgence of pirate attacks a year ago.
The EU statement says Friday’s attack is “likely to be piracy related” and is the first such attack since November.
The statement says the chemical tanker had been en route from Oman to Cape Town, South Africa.
Can Somalia’s fishing industry keep pirates out of business?
Rising piracy on Indian Ocean spells high insurance charges
Daily Nation — Cases of piracy in Indian Ocean off Somalia coast increased in 2017, raising fears that sustained attacks could raise insurance and freight costs for Kenya importers.
Nine piracy attacks were recorded off Somalia in 2017, up from two in 2016, a new report shows, as global attacks dropped to a 22-year low.
“The dramatic incident, alongside our 2017 figures, demonstrates that Somali pirates retain the capability and intent to launch attacks against merchant vessels hundreds of miles from their coastline,” Mr Pottengal Mukundan, International Maritime Bureau (IMB), director said in a statement.
The increase in such attacks usually comes with costs such as increased insurance premiums, longer freight routes as vessels avoid hot spots and additional cost of hiring private armed guards.
For country that imports more than Sh1.3 trillion worth of consumer and industrial goods, the increased cost is eventually passed to the consumer through higher retail prices.
In their heyday six years ago, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia in 2011, the IMB says, and held hundreds of hostages.
That year, Ocean’s Beyond Piracy estimated the global cost of piracy was about $7 billion.
The shipping industry bore roughly 80 per cent of those costs, the group’s analysis showed.
But attacks fell sharply after ship owners tightened security and avoided the Somali coast.
Intervention by regional naval forces that flooded into the area helped disrupt several hijack bids and improved security for the strategic trade route that leads through the Suez Canal and links the oilfields of the Middle East with European ports.
The IMB data shows a total of 180 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships took place globally, the lowest level of sea-based crimes to be recorded since 1995, when 188 reports were received.