Somali piracy: EU forces in 1st mainland raid

EU NAVFOR news release EU Naval Force Delivers Blow Against Somali Pirates On Shoreline Earlier today, following the decision taken on 23 March 2012 by the Council of the European Union to allow the EU Naval Force to take disruption action against known pirate supplies on the shore, EU forces conducted an operation to destroy…


USCG Assists Freezing Arctic Activist

By MarEx 2015-05-26 09:29:31

Coast Guard personnel assisted in the removal of an activist who secured herself to the anchor chain of the Arctic Challenger in Bellingham, Wash., Monday morning.

Chiara D’Angelo requested Coast Guard assistance down from the vessel’s anchor chain at approximately 9:30 a.m. and was transported to Coast Guard Station Bellingham.

Coast Guard personnel transported her in good condition to Station Bellingham where she was met by EMS and the Bellingham Police Department. Fuller was issued a summons and released in good condition.

The Coast Guard did not cite any vessels for violating the safety zone overnight.

“It was cold, rainy and she was starting to display signs of hypothermia,” said Chief Warrant Officer Charles Chavtur, commanding officer of Station Bellingham. “Boatcrew members were able to safely assist her down from the chain and gave her blankets and water. We brought her back to the station where she was evaluated by EMS and released to her family and friends.”

The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment Rights of people to safely and lawfully assemble on the water and is committed to enforcing the laws and regulations necessary to ensure the safety of the maritime public.

Violation of the safety zone can result in possible civil or criminal penalties. Whether intentional or unintentional, interference with these vessels has the potential to result serious injury, death or pollution in the highly sensitive ecosystem of Puget Sound.


Paris MOU Will Target Enclosed Spaces

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-26 20:39:40

The Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MoU) held its 48th Committee meeting in Noordwijkerhout, the Netherlands, last week, confirming the subject of its 2015 Concentrated Inspection Campaign.

High importance was given to the Concentrated Inspection Campaigns (CICs) at the meeting, and jointly with the Tokyo MoU a CIC on crew familiarization for enclosed space entry is scheduled from September to November this year.

In January 2015 enclosed space entry drills and training every two months became mandatory under amendments to SOLAS.

Change Needed

More people die or are injured in enclosed spaces than through any other related onboard work activity, said David Patraiko, The Nautical Institute’s Director of Projects at an education session back in 2013. The largest problem is with spaces which are not perceived as dangerous – anchor lockers and deck stores which may suffer from oxygen depletion, for example. The issue persists despite numerous guidelines, safety regimes, operational procedures manuals and assurance surveys. If this is to change, there are four major areas which need to be tackled, states The Nautical Institute:

Culture: Safety culture needs to be implemented at all levels, starting from the top. Adopting a shipboard enclosed space management plan based on onboard audits is a good new initiative. Procedures for Permits to Work need to be addressed.

Design: Shipboard design and operation should minimize the need to go into enclosed spaces in the first place; escape possibilities should be designed in.

Equipment: In many cases, crews are expected to use equipment that is not fit for purpose, or that is complex to use. In particular, firefighting equipment is not suitable for evacuating casualties from enclosed spaces.

Training and Drills: Good, frequent training is needed. This is a human element issue; only by working with the human element can it be solved.

Accidents Continue

Reports of enclosed spaces incidents are freely available in the database of the Institute’s Mariners’ Alerting and Reporting Scheme (MARS). Type enclosed spaces into the keyword box.

In a recent enclosed space accident, four people were found unconscious in the cargo hold of a general cargo ship in Hanstholm, Denmark, in April. One man died, and the others were hospitalized as a result of wood pellet cargo handling operations on the 7,500dwt ship Corina arriving from Poland. The men are believed to have been affected by the low oxygen atmosphere possibly caused by the buildup of carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide in the enclosed space of the cargo hold.

In a separate accident earlier that month, three men died after entering the cargo hold of a ship in the Port of Antwerp. In this instance the cargo had been coal.

CIC for 2016

The Paris MOU committee also decided that, after the entry into force of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC2006) in 2013, a CIC will be carried out in 2016 to verify compliance with the convention. The questionnaire and guidelines for this CIC have been completed and adopted.

Secretary General Richard Schiferli expressed the view of the committee that the decision demonstrates the importance to the Paris MoU of decent working and living conditions on board ships, and its commitment to ensuring that seafarers’ rights are respected.

2014 CIC

The report of the CIC on STCW hours of rest, carried out in September to November of 2014, was presented at the Paris MOU meeting with the committee expressing concern that during the CIC, which was publicized in advance, 912 deficiencies were recorded related specifically to STCW hours of rest and that 16 ships were detained as a result of the CIC.


China Talks of “Open Seas Protection”

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-26 20:06:12

China outlined a defense strategy on Tuesday that aims to boost naval capability farther from its shores, saying it faced a grave and complex array of security threats including in the disputed South China Sea.

In a policy document issued by the State Council, the Communist-ruled country’s cabinet, it vowed to continue growing its “open seas protection” and criticized neighbors who take “provocative actions” on its reefs and islands.

“In line with the strategic requirement of offshore waters defense and open seas protection, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will gradually shift its focus from “offshore waters defense” to the combination of “offshore waters defense” with “open seas protection,” and build a combined, multi-functional and efficient marine combat force structure. The PLAN will enhance its capabilities for strategic deterrence and counterattack, maritime maneuvers, joint operations at sea, comprehensive defense and comprehensive support.”

Seas and oceans bear on the enduring peace, lasting stability and sustainable development of China, so the traditional mentality that land outweighs sea must be abandoned, says the paper. Great importance has to be attached to managing the seas and oceans and protecting maritime rights and interests.

Attack and Counterattack

In upholding the continued strategic concept of active defense, the document states: “We will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked.”

It continues: “A holistic approach will be taken to balance war preparation and war prevention, rights protection and stability maintenance, deterrence and warfighting, and operations in wartime and employment of military forces in peacetime.”

Integrated combat forces will be employed to prevail in system-vs-system operations featuring information dominance, precision strikes and joint operations.

The document says China’s air force would shift its focus from territorial air defense to both offence and defense, and will build airspace defenses with stronger military capabilities.

The People’s Liberation Army’s nuclear force, known as the Second Artillery Corps, will also strengthen its capabilities for deterrence and nuclear counterattack as well as medium- and long-range precision strikes, the paper said.

A Message of Peace

The document also states China’s commitment to peace: “The Chinese people aspire to join hands with the rest of the world to maintain peace, pursue development and share prosperity.

“China’s destiny is vitally interrelated with that of the world as a whole. A prosperous and stable world would provide China with opportunities, while China’s peaceful development also offers an opportunity for the whole world. China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development, pursue an independent foreign policy of peace and a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, oppose hegemonism and power politics in all forms, and will never seek hegemony or expansion. China’s armed forces will remain a staunch force in maintaining world peace.”

Russia and the U.S.

China’s armed forces will further their exchanges and cooperation with the Russian military within the framework of the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia, and foster a comprehensive, diverse and sustainable framework to promote military relations in more fields and at more levels.

Additionally, China’s armed forces will continue to foster a new model of military relationship with the U.S. armed forces that conforms to the new model of major-country relations between the two countries. They will strengthen defense dialogues, exchanges and cooperation, and improve confidence-building measures through the notification of major military activities as well as the rules of behavior for safety of air and maritime encounters, so as to strengthen mutual trust, prevent risks and manage crises.

A Continued Focus on the South China Sea

The document comes as tensions rise over China’s increasingly assertive posture in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has engaged in land reclamation in the Spratly archipelago.

China, which claims most of the South China Sea, criticized Washington after a U.S. spy plane flew over areas near the reefs last week, with both sides accusing each other of stoking instability in the region.

Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said in a briefing on Tuesday China’s reclamation activities in the Spratly archipelago were comparable with construction of homes and roads on its mainland.

“From the perspective of sovereignty, there is absolutely no difference,” he said.

He said some countries with “ulterior motives” had unfairly characterized China’s military presence and sensationalized the issue. Surveillance activities in the region were increasingly common, and China would continue to take “necessary measures” to respond, Yang said.

“Some external countries are also busy meddling in South China Sea affairs; a tiny few maintain constant close-in air and sea surveillance and reconnaissance against China,” the strategy paper said in a thinly veiled reference to the United States.

The paper indicates that the PLAN will continue to organize and perform regular combat readiness patrols and maintain a military presence in relevant sea areas.

The report can be found here.


Politicians Push Importance of Merchant Mariner Bill

By MarEx 2015-05-26 11:14:45

Two U.S. representatives, Janice Hahn (D- Calif.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), emphasized the importance of a House bill to recognize U.S. Merchant Mariners over 70 years after their service in World War II during National Maritime Day Speeches on the East and West Coast.

The Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015 was introduced earlier this year by Hahn and Hunter and seeks to award a $25,000 one-time payment to merchant mariners of World War II. Currently, only about five thousand Merchant Mariners who served in the war are still alive.

Duncan Hunter, speaking at a Maritime Day event in Washington DC stated that, “the legislation would provide “well-deserved recognition for these heroic mariners who fought so valiantly for our country.”

Similarly, Hahn speaking to an audience at the San Pedro Merchant Mariners Veterans Memorial said “The first Maritime Day honoring our merchant mariners was held in 1970. Before that, despite their courage and service, and despite suffering higher casualty rates during World War II than other branches of our military, merchant mariners were excluded from celebrations of Veterans Day and Memorial Day.”

During World War II over 200,000 Americans served in the Merchant Marine. The Merchant Marine also had higher casualty rates than any branch of the armed service with the exception of the Marines. However, merchant mariners were denied any veteran benefits or status until 1988 when a federal court mandated recognition for the U.S. seamen.

Hahn has introduced HR 563, “Honoring Our World War II Merchant Mariners Act of 2015,” to provide the payment to surviving World War II merchant mariners. More than 6,000 merchant mariners died in service during World War II and time is running out to commemorate the accomplishments of the remaining Merchant Marine veterans.