Italian Navy Renews Fleet with $1.2bn Contract

By MarEx 2015-07-02 15:25:45

The Italian Navy placed an order for a new 1.1 billion euro ($1.2 billion) Landing Helicopter Dock, which will be added to its fleet in 2022.

The order is part of the Defense Act, a multi-year program for the renewal of the Navy’s fleet. In total the program employs a total funding of 5.4 billion euros ($6 billion) and, in addition to the LHD unit, it will see the construction of six patrol vessels, with an option for four more, and one logistic support unit.

Italian shipbuilding giant Fincantieri and technology manufacturer Finmeccanica will share in the contract, which amounts to an 853 million euro ($945 million) and 273 million euro ($301 million) split respectively between the two companies.

The unit will be approx. 200 meters (656 feet) long with a maximum speed of 25 knots. It will feature a combined diesel and gas turbine plant (CODOG) and will be able to accommodate on board over 1,000 people.

Equipped with wide embarkment areas of about 4500 square meters (48,000 square feet) within dock-garage and hangar-garage and a continuous open deck, able to receive wheeled vehicles of various kinds, containers and helicopters, the unit can perform several military and civil missions.

On board there will be a fully equipped hospital, complete with operating rooms, radiology and analysis rooms, a dentist’s office, and a hospital rooms capable of hosting 28 seriously injured patients (further admissions are possible through duly equipped container modules).

Fincantieri’s Chief Executive Officer, Giuseppe Bono, commented, “the announcement of this additional unit completes the first part of the renewal of our Navy’s Fleet, one of the world’s most significant defense programs of the last years. We are extremely satisfied and excited to be leaders of such an important project, both technically and industrially.”

Fundamental characteristics common to this new ship as well as the logistics and patrol vessels are a considerable degree of efficiency and flexibility in serving different mission profiles. In particular, these are dual use vessels, meaning that they may be used for both standard military purposes and for civil protection and rescue at sea operations. They also have a low environmental impact thanks to a state-of-the-art auxiliary propulsion system generating a low level of pollution emissions (electric engines) and biological waste control system.

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Terrorists Could Exploit Migrant Crisis in Mediterranean

By MarEx 2015-07-02 14:37:47

Terrorists could take advantage of the EU migrant crisis independent security consultant, ESC Global Security warns.

The Estonia-headquartered organization claims that terrorist atrocities in Tunisia and Europe’s escalating migration crisis continue to elevate the risk to ships transiting the region. As such, the Mediterranean should be classified as a maritime High Risk Area

“There is a reasonable doubt that some refugees from these areas will be a threat to European security. Terrorists and fundamentalists will take advantage of the crisis if they haven’t already,” said Jaanus Rahumägi, President & CEO, ESC Global Security.

“With thousands crossing the Mediterranean from Africa and the Middle East each month, the abolition of Europe’s internal frontiers will make it easier for terrorists to move across Europe undetected. But the identities of migrants can be verified before they reach land by security personnel,” he added.

However, Rahumägi dismissed calls to shift EUNAVFOR Atalanta, the European naval patrol operating in the Red Sea, to the Mediterranean in order to capture or destroy migrant ships.

“This is not the answer. Moving Atalanta simply because the risk of Somali piracy has been reduced does not mean it has been eradicated. A separate EUNAVFOR patrol is required and the Mediterranean should be given High Risk Area status until the migrant situation has been resolved,” he said.

According to the International Organization for Migration close to 133,000 migrants have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean so far this year. Italy leads the numbers with Greece coming in a close second.

“According to newspaper reports, there are thought to be about a million migrants looking to enter Europe across the Mediterranean from North Africa. But if merchant ships continue to go to their aide without adequate protection, then there is a significant risk to maritime security. Mediterranean shipping lanes must be protected in the same way that the merchant fleet is protected when it transits the Gulf of Aden and the southern Red Sea,” Rahumägi said.

The European Union pledged to triple its commitment to maritime patrols following the April 19 drowning of nearly 900 migrants. However, commercial operators in the region have consistently rendered aid to Mediterranean migrants throughout 2015. Denmark’s Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company, recently said it had conducted six rescues so far this year in the Mediterranean involving over 2,200 refugees. Another unit of the company, Maersk Tankers, likewise commented it had rescued another 750 people so far this year.

“If we are to mitigate the security risks associated with this humanitarian crisis, Brussels, the maritime administrations and the security services must work in concert,” Rahumägi added.

Rahumägi’s comments coincided with a joint statement issued last week by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu and IOM Director-General William L. Swing agreed to establish an inter-agency platform to disseminate information, highlight the dangers of and find a solution to the unsafe and irregular migration by sea.

The IMO and IOM urged the international community to take robust measures against people smugglers “who operate without fear or remorse and who deliberately and knowingly endanger the lives of thousands of migrants at sea.”

The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.

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Terrorist Could Exploit Migrant Crisis in Mediterranean

By MarEx 2015-07-02 14:37:47

Terrorists could take advantage of the EU migrant crisis independent security consultant, ESC Global Security warns.

The Estonia-headquartered organization claims that terrorist atrocities in Tunisia and Europe’s escalating migration crisis continue to elevate the risk to ships transiting the region. As such, the Mediterranean should be classified as a maritime High Risk Area

“There is a reasonable doubt that some refugees from these areas will be a threat to European security. Terrorists and fundamentalists will take advantage of the crisis if they haven’t already,” said Jaanus Rahumägi, President & CEO, ESC Global Security.

“With thousands crossing the Mediterranean from Africa and the Middle East each month, the abolition of Europe’s internal frontiers will make it easier for terrorists to move across Europe undetected. But the identities of migrants can be verified before they reach land by security personnel,” he added.

However, Rahumägi dismissed calls to shift EUNAVFOR Atalanta, the European naval patrol operating in the Red Sea, to the Mediterranean in order to capture or destroy migrant ships.

“This is not the answer. Moving Atalanta simply because the risk of Somali piracy has been reduced does not mean it has been eradicated. A separate EUNAVFOR patrol is required and the Mediterranean should be given High Risk Area status until the migrant situation has been resolved,” he said.

According to the International Organization for Migration close to 133,000 migrants have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean so far this year. Italy leads the numbers with Greece coming in a close second.

“According to newspaper reports, there are thought to be about a million migrants looking to enter Europe across the Mediterranean from North Africa. But if merchant ships continue to go to their aide without adequate protection, then there is a significant risk to maritime security. Mediterranean shipping lanes must be protected in the same way that the merchant fleet is protected when it transits the Gulf of Aden and the southern Red Sea,” Rahumägi said.

The European Union pledged to triple its commitment to maritime patrols following the April 19 drowning of nearly 900 migrants. However, commercial operators in the region have consistently rendered aid to Mediterranean migrants throughout 2015. Denmark’s Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company, recently said it had conducted six rescues so far this year in the Mediterranean involving over 2,200 refugees. Another unit of the company, Maersk Tankers, likewise commented it had rescued another 750 people so far this year.

“If we are to mitigate the security risks associated with this humanitarian crisis, Brussels, the maritime administrations and the security services must work in concert,” Rahumägi added.

Rahumägi’s comments coincided with a joint statement issued last week by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu and IOM Director-General William L. Swing agreed to establish an inter-agency platform to disseminate information, highlight the dangers of and find a solution to the unsafe and irregular migration by sea.

The IMO and IOM urged the international community to take robust measures against people smugglers “who operate without fear or remorse and who deliberately and knowingly endanger the lives of thousands of migrants at sea.”

The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.

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Spanish Authorities Seize Over $26m in Drugs

By Kathryn Stone 2015-07-02 11:36:41

Spanish authorities intercepted a cargo ship this week carrying a massive load of hashish resin, valued at 24 million Euro ($26.6 million).

The nearly 16 ton haul was discovered after French police notified Europol of a suspicious vessel thought to be connected with drug smuggling operations. Specialized intervention teams from the Guardia Civil boarded the 2,495 dwt general cargo ship the evening of June 28 as it passed along the Southern Coast of Spain, near Malaga. The vessel was then escorted into the port as authorities conducted their search for the illicit cargo.

The drug haul was found hidden in a false bottom of the ship under tons of steel chains and loose salt. It consisted of 500 bricks of hashish resin weighing approximately 15.7 tons. Nine crew members, comprised of six Syrian and three Indian nationals, were arrested following the discovery.

In a written statement the Guardia Civil reaffirmed the importance of the close collaboration between France, Spain and Italy in combatting narcotics operations in Eastern Europe. Over the past two and a half years the combined task force has intercepted over 20 drug vessels destined for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Typically drug ships depart from Northern Africa and bring their cargo into the Eastern Mediterranean. From there, narcotics shipments are distributed throughout Europe.

This week’s drug seizure is valued at 24 million Euro ($26.6 million) in the Spanish market, however many other European markets command higher prices.

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Statoil, Lithuania to Develop Baltic Sea LNG

By Reuters 2015-07-02 09:07:34

Norway’s Statoil and Lithuania’s Lietuvos Energija plan to join forces to develop a small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply operation, competing with Finnish gas utility Gasum.

Litgas, an LNG arm of state-owned Lietuvos Energija, and Statoil signed a preliminary agreement on Thursday to establish a joint venture by the end of 2015, Litgas said in a statement.

Statoil has a contract with Litgas to deliver 0.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Lithuania’s LNG terminal at Klaipeda port in 2014.

The terminal will be used as a hub to distribute LNG by smaller tankers around the Baltic Sea to fuel ships and for inland use where pipelines don’t reach.

The joint venture plans to start operations in the last quarter of 2017 at the latest.

“This is a market in its infancy, but is expected to grow quite considerably in years to come”, Geir Heitmann, Statoil vice president for LNG trading, said after signing a memorandum of understanding on the joint venture.

Finland’s majority state-owned Gasum also plans to develop an LNG bunkering business in the Baltic Sea by opening several small LNG terminals on Finland’s coast.

Gasum acquired 51 percent of Norwegian LNG distributor Skangass, saying the deal made it the largest operator in the Nordic LNG market.

The Baltic Sea small-scale LNG market is forecast to reach 0.5-1 billion cubic meters of gas by 2020 due to stricter environmental regulations for ship fuel, Litgas said.

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Scare at Washington Navy Yard

By Kathryn Stone 2015-07-02 08:48:52

Police responded to a reports of an active shooter at the Washington DC Navy Yard Thursday morning.

According to the Washington Post, authorities received the report around 7:40am and have since closed down several streets due to the large number police on scene. The U.S. Navy confirmed on Twitter that a lockdown was in place, however they have not confirmed the incident as of yet.

The Washington Navy Yard was the scene of another deadly shooting in 2013. Gunman Aaron Alexis shot and killed a dozen people and injured another eight. Alexis was killed in an ensuing fire fight with police.

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Active Shooter Reported in Washington Navy Yard

By Kathryn Stone 2015-07-02 08:48:52

Police responded to a reports of an active shooter at the Washington DC Navy Yard Thursday morning.

According to the Washington Post, authorities received the report around 7:40am and have since closed down several streets due to the large number police on scene. The U.S. Navy confirmed on Twitter that a lockdown was in place, however they have not confirmed the incident as of yet.

The Washington Navy Yard was the scene of another deadly shooting in 2013. Gunman Aaron Alexis shot and killed a dozen people and injured another eight. Alexis was killed in an ensuing fire fight with police.

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