Florida ports prepare for Erika

Gale force winds generated by Tropical Storm Erika could force Florida container ports to close, US officials have warned.
Austin Gould, the US Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COPT) for the Port of Miami, on 27 August set port readiness at ‘Whiskey’ – a condition in which gale force winds are
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West Africa Combats Piracy

By MarEx 2015-08-28 12:34:23

More than 20 nations are partnering with the Nigerian Navy to combat piracy. The Nigerians, naval officials from neighboring countries as well as U.N. representatives convened at the 2015 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) conference, which is hosted annually by Nigeria’s Navy in Lagos.

A key agenda of the conference is to build cooperation in Africa and increase coastal surveillance to enhance maritime security. Pirates along Africa’s west coast constantly disrupt commerce by stealing crude oil, poaching fish in territorial waters and robbing cargoes from ships and have murdered crew members.

Since 2008, piracy has spiked and Nigeria claims losses of about $2 billion per year. The Nigerian government said it loses $800 million due to illegal fishing and $9 million from piracy attacks and another $16 million to oil thefts and hundreds of millions that are paid in ransoms for ships and crews.

The chief of Nigerian naval operations said that while Africa has immense maritime resources the continent has a myriad of challenges. He pointed out that the Nigerian navy will increase its vigilance over maritime and combat piracy and oil theft.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) say it plans to have regular meetings with naval officials to coordinate anti-piracy efforts.

Recently, Nigeria has combated piracy by destroying 200 illegal oil refineries, 58 oil barges and arrested more than 80 pirate vessels.

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Heightened Military Exercises Due to Chinese Expansion

By MarEx 2015-08-28 11:27:58

India and Australia are doing bilateral naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal in September. The military joint exercise is meant to be a show of force in response to a Chinese nuclear submarine, which sailed into the Indian Ocean last year. Chinese subs have also been seen in near Sri Lanka and Pakistan as well. The Chinese presence has motivated India to strengthen ties with Australia, Japan and the U.S.

The Australian High Commission in Delhi has stated that the exercises will include anti-submarine warfare and coordinated anti-submarine drills.

In October, the U.S., India and Japan will participate in week-long bilateral war game exercise in the Pacific. The ongoing military exercises in the region are due to growing concerns by U.S. allies because of China’s maritime expansion.

China has stated it is concerned about the increase of military exercises and said naval vessels are in the Indian Ocean simply to protect its interests. India responded that it reserves the right to strengthen its ties with the U.S., Australia and Japan

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Restructured Team Tankers seeks growth

Oslo-listed chemical carrier group Team Tankers International says it is seeking growth opportunities after restructuring its business and gaining a strong balance sheet.
“As a result of the restructuring on 27 January 2015, the debt leverage of the company’s balance sheet is currently one of the
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Iranian Ship Escapes Captivity

By Reuters 2015-08-28 09:21:47

An Iranian fishing vessel and its crew have escaped after being held captive for five months by Somali fishermen, maritime piracy experts said on Friday, but it was not clear how many crew members had escaped.

Jaber, an Iranian fishing vessel believed to have up to 19 crew, was captured on March 26, along with another Iranian fishing vessel, Siraj. Local officials accused them of illegal fishing in Somali waters.

Although there are still rare cases of sea attacks, piracy in the Indian Ocean has largely subsided in the past three years, mainly due to shipping firms hiring private security details and the presence of international warships.

John Steed, a regional manager for Oceans Beyond Piracy, said Jaber and its crew escaped in early hours of Thursday morning and were pursued by pirates who had been holding the ship close to the shore in Ceel Hur, in central Somalia.

“It looks like the captain took the opportunity of a passing helicopter or whatever, when the guards were distracted and were not on the ship … and cut his anchors and motored out,” Steed, who runs a program helping hostages, told Reuters.

Kenya-based Steed added that the Iranian ship had reached a vessel which was part of the European Union’s international Naval Force protecting the busy shipping lanes from pirates.

Lieutenant Robert Thurmott, spokesman for the EU Naval Force operations, said the force had provided food and water to the Jaber crew on their own vessel. Somali and Iranian officials have been informed about Jaber’s situation, he added.

As well as the Siraj crew, only 26 other sailors are held by Somali pirates, from a peak of about 750 at the beginning of the decade, according to United Nations figures.

The last outbreak of Somali piracy cost the world’s shipping industry billions of dollars as pirates paralysed shipping lanes, kidnapped hundreds of seafarers and seized vessels more than 1,000 miles from Somalia’s coastline.

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