US-Flagged Bulk Carrier M/V Liberty Grace Attacked Offshore Togo

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by tankercaptain, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    US-Flagged Bulk Carrier M/V Liberty Grace Attacked Offshore Togo



    M/V Liberty Grace, image: Liberty Maritime
    gCaptain sources report this afternoon that the M/V Liberty Grace, 50,601 dwt US-flagged bulk carrier vessel with 22 personnel on board, including two U.S. Merchant Marine Academy cadets, was attacked offshore Togo at 0150Z yesterday morning.

    Three skiffs approached the vessel on two separate occasions, but according to our source, were “fought” off with fire hoses. Nobody was hurt in the attack and the vessel continued on in accordance with its planned schedule.

    According to AIS data, the vessel is currently in Lome, Togo.

    According to a report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB)

    “The Duty Officer directed the ship search light towards the skiff, raised the alarm, activated the fire hoses and called the Togo navy. It was observed that the robbers, with hoods pulled over their heads, were attempting to board the vessel using a pole and hook. Three flares were fired in the direction of the skiff. Seeing the crew alertness the robbers aborted the attempt and moved away.”
    Kidnappings of sailors on merchant ships in waters off Nigeria and nearby countries surged in the first half as pirates attacked a broader range of vessels and sought targets farther out at sea.

    Pirates operating in the Gulf of Guinea kidnapped 30 crew in the period, compared with three seized worldwide in 2012’s first six months, the IMB said in a report earlier this week. Attackers previously tended to seek out ships involved in the regional oil industry and now are targeting container ships and other merchant vessels, it said.
     
  2. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Scary stuff. Glad all are ok!
     
  3. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    It's too close to home. I've stood too many pirate watches with my first starting as a cadet back in 1993 off the coast of Brazil. I'm happy that no one was hurt.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2013
  4. Aglahad

    Aglahad Member

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    I am not an expert on merchant marine affairs but are any of these cargo ships ever armed? At least small arms wise? Or is that against some international maritime law?
     
  5. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I think it's some long-standing Maritime Law/tradition thing. I'm sure tankercaptain or LITS knows.
     
  6. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    I think it is an insurance thing. No weapons on board. Shoot the bastards. I think some ships in the horn hire Israelis for armed insurance.:thumb: It's time they changed the weapon laws for ships and forget the insurance company's stupid no weapon requirements.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2013
  7. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    No expert, but I've heard that the multitude and variation of gun laws in nations where ships wind up for business makes it complicated to stay within the law, so most don't bother with the extra effort.
     
  8. DHinNH

    DHinNH USMA 1989

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    Those "stupid" requirements keep the insurance affordable. Without affordable insurance, the carriers wouldn't have cargo on board.
     
  9. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    I read some ships prefer to pay $25,000 per day for a 3-man armed security team that ensures their safe passage (no ship with one has ever been attacked from what the article said) through a dangerous area, and that price is cheaper than the insurance.

    http://armedmaritimesecurity.com/index/articles.php

     
  10. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Sounds like good work for a man who knows his way around a gun...and who wants to see the world...and who doesn't get seasick...and who has no family.

    Ok, maybe not so great...
     
  11. kp13

    kp13 Member

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    This isn't as black and white as insurance and cost. International maritime law allows for free and safe passage for unarmed civilian vessels. When you begin arming the crew, it can, under some interpretations, become an armed vessel of war. In addition many countries frown upon a cargo vessel pulling into their country with a crew having access to weapons. With that being said I've heard rumors of Israeli flagged vessel having an uzi gun stand for each rack.

    With that being said, the cost of a security team for certain safety may seem like a no brainer to some of you, but it becomes a more difficult decision when you actually understand the incredibly small profit margin that is made on each container.

    This is just another example of the difficulty facing the global Maritime industry, and the dangers that still exist. Just two years ago I was sitting on the bow in the Gulf of Aden as a cadet on the 00x04 pirate watch armed with a radio, flashlight, pocketknife, and a few twist locks and lashing rods in case the defecation really hit the oscillation. Let me know the next time any other academies cadets/mids end up in situations like that before graduation andI'll start listening to the arguments of KP being obsolete.
     
  12. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    The situation of what? Being put in danger with no way to defend yourself? I don't think that's the point of this thread, but it begs the question...what good did that do, especially if the maritime industry refuses to change its baseline tactics in the face of pirates? It makes a cool bar story, but what about that four hour watch validates the existence of USMMA?

    I'm not opposed to the MMA at all. I just don't see a philosophical connection.
     
  13. Packer

    Packer Member

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    Do you seriously think this justifies KP's existence?

    I do not think KP is obsolete but if you think the naysayers are going to be swayed by this argument, I believe you are mistaken.
     
  14. BigBear

    BigBear Class of 2015

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    WP had a cadet on the ground in Djibouti with a cav unit for 32 days ... Just sayin'
     
  15. kp13

    kp13 Member

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    Yeah, guess it wasnt the best way to take the end of that response, but as for the effectivness, it worked in the case written and is the suggested tactics provided by the Navy Coallition forces in the area
     
  16. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Not just cargo vessels.

    I just read a story from last month where a US Coast Guard cutter was denied a docking permit in Costa Rica because it was an armed vessel, and as an armed ship it needed the approval of the Costa Rican Congress before the port call.

    They approved and granted a docking permit to a Colombian navy ship the same day--ironically that Colombian navy ship was previously the 210ft USCG Cutter Durable.

    I can imagine the hassles that a cargo vessel would get.
     
  17. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    Generally, cargo ships carry no weapons. When I sailed master for American President Lines in the early nineties we did carry a .38 special in the ships safe. For the captain it was more trouble than it was worth, especially in countries like Japan where guns are tightly controlled. The weapon and ammo [normally 200 rounds] had to be listed on the Ships Stores Declaration and Japanese customs officials always wanted to see the pistol and count the rounds before granting entry and again before issuing a clearance to sail. I even had customs officials on a number of occasions come down in the middle of a port stay to sight the pistol and ammo; I guess to make sure it was still locked up. Sometimes those visits came in the middle of the night when I was asleep. APL, after hearing numerous complaints from captains about being hassled about the pistol, eventually directed all their ships to turn them in to the LAPD harbor division.

    This is an excerpt from the IMO (International Maritime Organization) Maritime Safety Committee guidance to shipowners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships.

    Firearms
    With respect to the carriage of firearms on board, masters, shipowners and companies should be aware that ships entering the territorial sea and/or ports of a State are subject to that State’s legislation. It should be borne in mind that importation of firearms is subject to port and coastal State regulations.
    It should also be borne in mind that carrying firearms may pose an even greater danger if the ship is carrying flammable cargo or similar types of dangerous goods.

    Non-Arming of Seafarers
    The carrying and use of firearms by seafarers for personal protection or for the protection of a ship is strongly discouraged. Seafarers are civilians and the use of firearms requires special training and aptitudes and the risk of accidents with firearms carried on board ship is great. Carriage of arms on board ship may encourage attackers to carry firearms or even more dangerous weapons, thereby escalating an already dangerous situation. Any firearm on board may itself become an attractive target for an attacker.

    It should also be borne in mind that shooting at suspected pirates may impose a legal risk for the master, shipowner or company, such as collateral damages. In some jurisdictions, killing a national may have unforeseen consequences even for a person who believes he or she has acted in self defense. Also the differing customs or security requirements for the carriage and importation of firearms should be considered, as taking a small handgun into the territory of some countries may be considered an offense.
     
  18. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    How would Pirates respond if they get shot? Will they back away, shot some RPG rounds to sink the ship (not sure if RPG will sink a ship), and/or if they are successful boarding the ship kill everyone (or just kill security guards/or crew members that shot at them)?
     
  19. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    Usually if shot at pirates move on. It's about hardening the vessel. It's not worth their effort to attack an armed vessel. A RPG will not usually sink a vessel unless it were to hit a bunker tank and even then I'd be suspect on it sinking a vessel.
     
  20. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    A very good article from Maritime Executive

    Piracy Threats as Seen Through the Eyes of the Beholder

    By Andrew Moulder, Former ONI Analyst

    Special to Piracy Daily

    As the threat posed by maritime piracy continues in several parts of the world, there is a growing debate among different governments, private sector analysts, non-governmental organization advocates and others about how bad the situation truly is; where and to whom it is the most challenging, what more needs to be done, and how much the private security industry actually benefits from this type of reporting.

    Like the famous phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” different people find the same threats to be of varying degrees of worry. Yet the bottom line is that piracy’s frequency and growing transnational criminal reach, the people it hurts, and the impact on the trade and commerce that they prey upon means that professional analyses remaining holding the key to a common response.

    One key area where various beholders cross their swords of opinion can be found the chat rooms and professional groups sustained on the Internet, be they by maritime professional organizations, or social sites like Linkedin.

    Having been a counter-piracy analyst for the Department of Defense for more than six years, and now in my work for a private maritime security company (PMSC), many of the seemingly conflictive threat analyses make sense given the various perches from where they are written.

    For example, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) and other commercial reporting organizations do an excellent job at receiving reports directly from the vessels themselves and ensuring they are reported as soon as possible. Many government and non-government agencies alike look to these reports as great sources of information due to the intimate means of communication they have with the mariners out at sea.

    However, sometimes looking at just the stats that they compose for their quarterly and yearly reports can be misleading without context. Many incidents go unreported due to some vessel owners not wanting to publicize that one of their own had an incident involving pirates. Other times, the vessel may be a local fishing trawler close to shore that is not even registered and when pirates hijack it with the intent of using it as a mother ship, no one is there to report it—or even realize that it is missing—until it is used by pirates to capture an even-larger vessel. Since the IMB can only report what they receive, you won’t find those numbers in their reporting.

    On the other hand, many incidents reported are not always related to piracy. Many fishermen still like to navigate those waters in and around the Somali coast and often times will approach a passing vessel to protect their nets or may even tail the vessel for a time in the hopes of catching any potential fish left behind from the wake. These fishermen may also carry firearms with them as a means of protection which can often be misinterpreted by transiting vessels nearby. The IMB does a good job of acknowledging many of the reports as only suspicious approaches when no pirate related equipment was observed, but often times there may not be enough sufficient evidence to support either way.

    Government organizations such as NAVCENT and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) can usually provide additional insight to each incident by using various sources of analysis and can give more accurate statistical data. But just like the IMB and other commercial organizations, the lack of reporting can still make providing accurate information very difficult.

    Many in the shipping industry believe that some PMSCs use this type of statistical data to their advantage by providing their own analysis to support the need for their services. Obviously, PMSCs benefit from this type of reporting; it would be naive to think otherwise. But even back in 2009 and 2010, when Somali piracy was at its worst, less than one percent of vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden were attacked. Those are extremely low odds of a vessel getting hijacked, but the perception was always much higher because no one ever reports a safe transit. As a result, companies, and especially insurers, now just do not want to take that chance, even with the number of hijackings off the Horn of Africa down to practically zero. However, it needs to be noted that it is not the PMSCs that are telling them they need armed guards embarked on their vessels; rather, it is the insurers or the charterers.

    That one often-repeated statement—"No vessel with armed security has ever been hijacked by Somali pirates"—has become the biggest advertisement/marketing tool you could ever have for the PMSC community (not to mention the fact that it is free) is all that really matters in their eyes.

    Plus, the decision to hire a PMSC is made before they ever contact one, and it should be noted that any intelligence reports they read that influences their initial decision likely did not come from a PMSC. The bottom line: A company’s CSO whose only inputs come from a PMSC vendor telling him/her that s/he needs to embark armed security on her/his vessel probably is not a very prosperous CSO anyway.

    As the senior threat analyst for the AdvanFort Company, I compose a pre-transit risk assessment for each one of our client vessels, tailored to their exact route in order to include all factors ... weather (monsoon seasons), lunar phase for night transits, historical analysis of previous attacks in the vicinity of their route over the past 30 to 60 days, as well as historical data of attacks along that route in previous years.

    If I assess a minimal threat during a transit, it is my job to inform them of that. But I also put at their disposal all the resources and knowledge that I can for them to use. And if they feel that the next time around they won't need armed security for that same transit based on the information I have provided them, then that is the decision they can make with confidence.

    Critics of the PMSC community are right that many companies put out these reports to show off their "intelligence skills" when really they are just using basic summaries of recent attacks; this is true in both West and East Africa. Reading through several different ones, one finds that they all look basically the same.

    In putting out AdvanFort’s weekly report that I’ve gleaned from various sources— including ONI and the IMB—I work overtime to ensure that the final product cannot be seen as merely meant to scare or advertise, but rather to inform. In fact, most of the time I tend to downplay most of the so-called attacks that have occurred recently; basically trying to apply my skills as an intelligence analyst to our corporate and other friends and colleagues, but on a much smaller scale, of course.
     

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