Ghana Takes Lead in New Piracy Initiative

By Wendy Laursen 2015-07-27 16:18:35

To understand the maritime security issues afflicting Ghana, it is instructive to first look at Nigeria. Nigeria is the powerhouse of the region and a major trade corridor for neighboring, land-locked nations such as Niger and Chad.

A lot of the wealth generated within Nigeria spreads across to its neighbors, and with a newly elected government, it is likely to see a boost in economic development.

That means more ships, travelling to and from Nigeria, will pass through the waters of Ghana; more ships that are potential targets in a region where many incidents go unreported, says Jonathan Stamper, Director of security specialist Watchwood Resources Limited.

“Nigeria has changed recently. Most people in the region that have a touch on what is going on there are expecting there to be a new wave of crime, not necessarily just piracy on the high seas, but all sorts of crime that Nigeria is going to have to deal with in its immediate future,” he says. That wave of crime is expected to reach Ghana.

Watchwood has been active in the security of the region, on land and at sea, and Stamper says that Ghana is one of the more politically stable countries there. People are keen to invest in the country, and Ghana itself is undergoing a lot of development, including in the oil and gas industry.

Up until now, Ghana has not allowed foreign private maritime security companies to provide personnel on ships in its waters. With an eye on developments in the region, though, the government has realized that it has something to gain from adopting European standards of maritime security.

“We saw a way to bring value to Ghana by working to set up an anti-piracy solution from a commercial perspective,” says Stamper.

Watchwood is compliant with ISO9000 and international anti-bribery and corruption laws. That was of critical importance to the company’s deal with Ghana authorities.

“One of the key provisos for any government in that part of the world is audit, control, safety and security for all of their territory and state boundaries,” says Stamper. Ghana’s president, John Dramani Mahama, was appointed the chairman of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2014, and he has been pivotal in the development of a maritime security framework for the region.

What Stamper is initiating in Ghana under Mahama’s government is unique in ECOWAS. Stamper is bringing qualified U.K operatives to work with and train Ghana police officers. That way, as well as providing security services, the company is also building future capacity within Ghana.

“We are increasing the police’s mandate to deal with many issues in their waters including piracy, drugs running, human trafficking and illegal fishing. There’s always been issues with foreign nationals bearing arms in anybody’s territorial waters, and that’s the crux of why Watchwood has been given the authority to go ahead with this project,” says Stamper.

“We’ve found a way to provide the audit and control processes that the security apparatus of Ghana is happy with. They are always going to be in control at every stage.”

All the training modules developed by Watchwood meet the standards that would be required in the U.K., including training in the International 100 Series Rules as model rules for the use of force.

The project has been established in the port city of Tema, and the first round of training is expected to be completed soon. Watchwood security operatives will then be taking to the waters of Ghana, assisting the local police make the country’s waters safer.

“The strategic part of the project is to show that it is viable for commercial entities to work in the region,” says Stamper. “For Ghana itself, it is a demonstration that they can be dynamic first movers in regional projects. Ghana has a good reputation across the region, and there are a lot of other countries in the region finding themselves dealing with the prospects of offshore oil and gas and other development.”

Like Ghana, Stamper hopes that other countries in the region will take notice. “The key thing for us as a commercial company is to try and get some sort of resolution in the region for the mariners and how they view having to work in the region.”


Chinese Deliver Largest Box Ship

By MarEx 2015-07-27 12:46:53

Chinese State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) has delivered its largest built container ship to CMA CGM, the French shipping group bases out of Marseille. The CMA CGM Vasco De Gama is an 18,000 TEU box ship at 399 meters long (1,309 feet) and 54 meters (177 feet) wide and it’s the largest ship in CMA CGM’s fleet.

The vessel will be flagged in the UK. The M/V Vasco De Gama is environmentally friendly, including next generation engines and optimized hull design. It has reduced emissions by another 10 percent.

CMA CGM announced today that it will begin service to Iran on August 6th. Two sister ships will be delivered in September and November. CMA CGM is the third-largest container company in the world in terms of vessel capacity.


Malacca Converting Ports Into Specialized Hubs

By MarEx 2015-07-27 11:59:10

Plans are underway to convert seven Malaccan ports into specialized hubs. The Malacca Port Development Masterplan is expected to increase investments and economic activity by creating jobs in the manufacturing, tourism and industrial sectors. The plan will upgrade the six existing Malaccan ports and begin construction on the Malacca Gateway Port, which will specialize in tourism.

The six existing ports will cater to various industries. The Linggi Port will serve the industrial sector, Tangga Batu will serve the oil and gas industry, Tanjung Bruas will serve cargo and containerships, Undang will serve the military, Umbai will serve the fishing industry and Sungai Rambai will serve the mining and mineral sectors.

“We have studied the advantages of specializing each port according to the sectors chosen under the masterplan in line with our goals to spur the state’s economy,” said Datuk Lim Ban, the Malacca Transport and Project Rehabilitation Committee chairman.

Malacca is the third-smallest Malaysian state after Perlis and Penang and is located on the southern region of the Malay Peninsula next to the Straits of Malacca and the royal city of Muar. Malaysia had a GDP of $336.9 billion in 2014, 83% of which came from exports.


Coal Stacker Collapses At Mozambique Port

By Reuters 2015-07-27 10:25:12

A coal stacker, which is a large bulk handler, collapsed in the Mozambique port of Nacala. The stacker buckled according to a port spokesperson.

It was at the coal terminal currently owned by Brazilian miner Vale, who wants to begin coal exports in the third quarter of 2015. Vale is global operator of mining, energy, steelmaking and logistics. Authorities are investigating and they should issue a report in the few couple of weeks. No one was injured in the accident.

Vale is reliant on the port and connecting railway, which are known as the Nacala Corridor, in order to move production at Moatize mine in northwest Mozambique. Vale anticiaptes it reach production 22 million tons by 2017. It current output is about 7 million tons.

Vale’s Moatize project has had difficulties in terms of expanding the Nacala railway and port slowdowns due increased production at the mine. The rail line runs for 900 km (560 miles) through land-locked Malawi to the port of Nacala on the Indian Ocean.

Last December, it sold a stake in the project to Japanese trader Mitsui & Co Ltd in order to share the cost of getting the mine up and running. Mitsui bought a stake just under 15 percent in the mine and 35 percent in the rail and port system.