Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean
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African nations hail the Lome maritime charter

African nations hail the Lome maritime charter | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
African leaders on October 14 signed a deal to boost security off the continent's economically crucial coasts, hoping to shore up development by tackling maritime crimes like piracy and smuggling. 

The deal is designed to improve information-sharing between African nations, a weakness that pirates and smugglers have benefited from in the past, slipping between territorial waters with little trouble. 

The talks drew 18 heads of state -- an unusually high figure for an AU meeting of this kind, signalling the importance that governments have placed on the need to cut piracy and other crime in Africa's waters. 

Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso hailed the African Union agreement as "historic", while Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta said it showed Africa's ability to put together a continent-wide strategy. Sassou Nguesso said 43 nations had adopted the binding agreement -- which will see countries pay into a special fund for maritime security -- at a summit in Togo's capital Lome.

 As he opened the summit, Chad's President Idriss Deby, the current AU chief, noted that some 90 percent of Africa's imports and exports are transported by sea, making maritime security key to the continent's economic future. 

 Of the AU's 54 member states, 38 have coastlines.
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Piracy could surge off of the infamous Somali coast, experts warn

Piracy could surge off of the infamous Somali coast, experts warn | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
Even with maritime piracy at a 21-year low, experts are warning of a potential resurgence in East Africa among other risks. "Suddenly, the opportunity is improving," anti-piracy expert John Steed said about Somali piracy. 

"No one has tried it yet, but the potential is there for it to come back." The last wave of Somalia piracy peaked in 2011 with 176 attacks. It declined to almost nothing by 2015, thanks to an increased foreign naval presence and industry precautions like posting armed guards, moving faster, and following certain routes when passing through the area. 

At the end of last year, the industry issued new recommendations that reduced the size of the danger zone. Heading into 2016, however, IHS Inc. said Somali piracy was a major risk thanks to instability and unrest in the region. "The two conditions that led regional politicians to [support pirates], namely a lack of alternative economic opportunities and a threat to their control of their territory, are currently being recreated in the Galmudug region of central Somalia," the risk consultancy warned. 

 Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) also warned of a piracy "reset" in its mid-year report. Steed, the non-profit's regional manager for the Horn of Africa, walked us through some risk factors. —"Naval forces are getting [drawn away]. 

There’s a great deal of work for them to do, particularly with the migration problems and the issues higher up the Horn [of Africa] …. The days of the European naval force may be coming to an end."
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Why China and Saudi Arabia Are Building Bases in Djibouti 

Why China and Saudi Arabia Are Building Bases in Djibouti  | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it


Djibouti, a resource-poor nation of 14,300 square miles and 875,000 people in the Horn of Africa, rarely makes international headlines. But between its relative stability and strategic location—20 miles across from war-consumed Yemen and in destroyer range of the pirate-infested western edge of the Indian Ocean—it is now one of the more important security beachheads in the world. 

Its location also matters greatly to global commerce and energy, due to its vicinity to the Mandeb Strait and the Suez-Aden canal, which sees ten percent of the world’s oil exports and 20 percent of its commercial exports annually. Since November 2002, the country has been home to Camp Lemonnier, a U.S. Expeditionary base—the only American base on the African continent—along with other bases belonging to its French, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese allies. 

(The United States maintains numerous small outposts and airfields in Africa, but officially regards Lemonnier as its only full-scale military base on the continent.)

But now there are two new kids on the block: On January 21st, the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry announced an agreement with Djibouti to host its first-ever base beyond the South China Sea, and construction commenced days later.[2] Though Beijing called the installation a “logistics and fast evacuation base,” the Asian power’s “near-abroad” rivals, such as Taiwan, opined that it is more likely the beginning of a new, aggressive military buildup to rival the United States. 

Six weeks later, Saudi Arabia declared that it too would construct a base in Djibouti,[3] apparently as part of its newly assertive policy of countering Iranian proxies politically and militarily throughout the region.[4]
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Maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea: Threats, vulnerabilities and opportunities

Maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea: Threats, vulnerabilities and opportunities | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
The South China Sea, Malacca Straits, Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea are maritime landscapes that depict the importance of the ocean as a flow and stock resource. They are also landscapes that reflect dangerous threats to the global blue economy. Since 2005/2006, the rise of maritime landscapes under threat during times of peace has become a security matter featuring prominently alongside the established status of landward threats and vulnerabilities. 

Nowhere is this more prevalent than along the African coast. Sea piracy off the Horn of Africa, vast migrant waves facilitated by criminal syndicates in the Mediterranean waters off Libya, and criminality in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea have become persistent headlines in the international media and on security agendas of governments. 

By 2016, events in the Gulf of Guinea probably epitomised threats at sea off Africa. The International Maritime Bureau, for example, reported the Gulf of Guinea as the most dangerous sea for the first quarter of 2016. As in the case of the Horn of Africa, international attention, academic focus and the maritime industry at large became more concerned with the Gulf of Guinea than with events around the Gulf of Aden. 

Although this shift is often expressed as quantitative comparisons with a strong inclination to relate piracy-styled incidents between the eastern and western African maritime regions, the Gulf of Guinea holds its own collection of maritime threats, vulnerabilities and opportunities.
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One of the World's Biggest Fisheries Is on The Verge of Collapse

One of the World's Biggest Fisheries Is on The Verge of Collapse | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
Another less publicized, also potentially disastrous, threat looms in the South China Sea: overfishing. This is one of the world’s most important fisheries, employing more than 3.7 million people and bringing in billions of dollars every year. But after decades of free-for-all fishing, dwindling stocks now threaten both the food security and economic growth of the rapidly developing nations that draw on them. 

 China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia—have competing claims to the sea’s waters and resources. 

China argues that it has a right to almost the entire South China Sea because it says it has historically exercised jurisdiction in that area, which China delineates on maps with a U-shaped “nine-dash” line (see map). Every other disputant in the South China Sea, including the Philippines, bases its maritime claims on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an international agreement that defines maritime zones.

So it’s understandable why all eyes have been focused on the political and military wrangling. If war broke out over these claims, it would pit two superpowers, China and the United States—a longtime Philippine ally and guarantor of freedom of navigation in the Pacific Ocean—against each other.
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China and Africa's Illegal Fishing Problem: Beijing's opportunity to be part of the solution

China and Africa's Illegal Fishing Problem: Beijing's opportunity to be part of the solution | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
The ongoing disputes in the South China Sea are usually portrayed as being centered on China’s brazen attempts to claim artificial islands and the waters surrounding them as extensions of its sovereign territory; rights to the 11 billion estimated barrels of oil beneath the sea; or access to the 5.3 trillion dollar trade that passes through it. 

Fishing rights, when mentioned, usually come further down the list of possible casus belli among the nine countries contesting the waters of the South China Sea. However, recent attention to the scourge of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing has highlighted the importance of sustainable fish stocks to friendly international relations in the South China Sea and beyond. 

 With roughly 50 percent of its fish stocks fully exploited, 25 percent over-exploited and the other 25 percent completely collapsed, it’s not hard to see why relations among ASEAN nations are so fraught when it comes to maritime policy. This is not made easy by the growing appetite for seafood among Chinese consumers, whose consumption has grown at a rate of 6 percent per annum between 1990 and 2010, to account for 34 percent of all fish consumed every year. 

What’s more, by 2030 Chinese consumption is expected to grow by another 30 percent. With dwindling reserves in the South China Sea resulting in more frequent and more violent clashes between Chinese fishermen and those of other littoral states, the trawlers are simply moving farther out to sea – all the way as far as the eastern, southern and west African coasts where they encounter much less competition and coastguard protection. What competition they do face is likely to be from anywhere other than the country whose waters they are fishing in.
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The top 10 places where you could be attacked by pirates

The top 10 places where you could be attacked by pirates | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
International mapping company ESRI crunched the data to figure out where the most pirate attacks have occurred in the last year.
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12 Pirates Convicted For Attacking MSC Jasmine Off The Coast Of Somalia

12 Pirates Convicted For Attacking MSC Jasmine Off The Coast Of Somalia | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
EU Naval Force has welcomed the conviction earlier today of twelve men after they were found guilty by the Mauritian Court of attempting to carry out an act of piracy against a merchant ship, MSC Jasmine, on 5 January 2013.

The successful conviction came after prosecution lawyers in the Republic of Mauritius challenged an earlier court ruling in November 2014 that had found the men not guilty of attacking the Cypriot container ship as it transited south in the Indian Ocean.

This was the first piracy trial held by the Mauritian Court after a transfer agreement, that enables those suspected of committing an act of piracy off the coast of Somalia to be transferred to the island nation for prosecution, was signed between the European Union and the Mauritian Government in July 2011. 

 On the day of the attack in January 2013, MSC Jasmine’s master put out a distress call to say that his ship had been attacked by a number of men who were armed with rocket propelled grenades. The private security team on board managed to repel the attack. Upon receiving the distress call, counter-piracy warships from NATO (USS Halyburton) and EU Naval Force (FS Surcouf), together with EU Naval Force’s German maritime patrol aircraft, immediately closed the sea area. 

Upon arrival at the scene, FS Surcouf’s boarding team boarded two suspect vessels, and after apprehending twelve men, the suspects were transferred to the Republic of Mauritius for prosecution. The European Union also has a transfer agreement with the Republic of the Seychelles and just last month the Seychellois Court found seven men guilty of attacking the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker, MV Nave Atropos, in the Gulf of Aden in January 2014.
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Military ships from around the world arriving in Hawaii for maritime exercises

Military ships from around the world arriving in Hawaii for maritime exercises | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
More than two dozen nations are arriving in Hawaii for the biennial Rim of the Pacific exercises off Hawaiian waters next week. 

 In all, 45 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and about 25,000 service members from around the globe will participate in the military exercise. And for the first time this year, Denmark, Germany and Italy will join the events. 

RIMPAC is the world's largest international maritime exercise. The Navy says it trains participants to foster and sustain relationships that are critical to ensuring safety and security at sea. 

The exercise runs this year from June 30 to August 4.
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Maritime cooperation opportunities highlighted at int'l conference

Maritime cooperation opportunities highlighted at int'l conference | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
It’s necessary for countries to cooperate in using and exploiting marine resources. Enhancing cooperation to ensure maritime security and creating a stable environment for prosperity is the responsibility of all coastal countries. Huyen Nga analyses opportunities for maritime cooperation: As the East Sea and East China Sea have seen increasing tensions because of island upgrading, militarization of artificial islands, and other activities to bolster claims of sovereignty, cooperative mechanisms to minimize conflicts and obtain mutual benefits have become more important. 

Marine security: a top shared concern 180 delegates from Asian and European countries discussed marine security at a conference called “Marine security and development: International cooperation and European-Asian experience sharing” in Ha Long city, Quang Ninh province, last week. During the 2-day conference, delegates discussed ways to enhance cooperation in dealing with marine security issues and affirmed the need to foster cooperation, amidst the escalation of strategic competition between countries. 

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Doctor Dang Dinh Quy, said: “Marine security has become an important and pressing issue. Potential conflicts in the sea have threatened and degraded cooperation efforts and trust among countries.” Experts from Asian and European countries underlined the role of cooperation and information sharing. Many delegates said Asian countries should learn lessons from the collective security mechanism which has been effectively implemented in Europe. 

Sharing information is an effective way to protect sea travelers and discourage activities that undermine marine security. The delegates said ASEAN countries face marine security threats from terrorism and piracy and they should build an integrated database to help protect marine routes. Illegal fishing is another big marine security problem in Asia. It derives from long-standing territorial disputes and some countries have used fishing activities to bolster their territorial claims. A multilateral mechanism and resolute political will are needed to resolve the problem.
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The Trajectory of India-U.S. Relations

The Trajectory of India-U.S. Relations | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming state visit to the United States on June 7-8, 2016, at the invitation of President Barack Obama at the tail end of his administration, is not likely to produce as much euphoria or enthusiasm as it did during his maiden trip as a prime minister in September 2014. 

Undoubtedly, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi have been able to forge a close and sturdy political rapport between them. This significantly contributed to strengthening and deepening of bilateral ties in myriad fields. At the same time, foreign policy pundits in both the countries appear to be overly optimistic that Modi’s visit will give a new momentum and impetus to Indo-American relations, especially in defense and security realms. 

 Quite importantly, Modi has been invited to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on June 8 – a rare personal honor for him. It might be recalled that the United States had treated him as a “pariah” following the Gujarat riots in 2002. In that episode, when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, over 1,000 people – mostly Muslims – lost their lives in the worst hit communal violence.
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China-US to deepen cooperation on maritime environmental protection

China-US to deepen cooperation on maritime environmental protection | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
China will deepen cooperation with the United States on maritime environmental protection, State Councilor Yang Jiechi said during an annual high-level discussion between the two nations in Beijing on Monday. Titled "Blue Ocean", the discussion was co-chaired by Yang and United States Secretary of State John Kerry. 

Yang said the maritime resources and oceanic exploitation plays an important role in China's long-term development, and China will balance the economic growth and protection of the maritime environment. He said China and the US have already been working together on protecting the ocean environment, including the cooperation between coastal cities from both the countries on reducing waste in the sea waters.

 "We are looking for further cooperation on many maritime issues, including cracking down on illegal fishing, curbing pollution and raising public awareness of maritime environment protection," Yang said. Kerry also stressed the increasing environmental problems in oceans, and said "the cooperation between China and the US is essential for solving those problems". 

"We will stand together on protecting the maritime environment as we did on the climate change," he added. Wang Hong, director of China's Oceanic Administration, said both countries have been making effects on protecting the oceans. China is not only launching stricter laws and regulations to save the environment from being polluted and over exploited, but also paying a great attention on bring the knowledge of maritime environment protecting to the public.
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What Mozambique owes, and to whom

What Mozambique owes, and to whom | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
Mozambique is in a deep foreign debt crisis that analysts say could lead to social unrest if it continues to hammer the economy and currency, fuelling inflation and making it harder for the government to pay civil servants. 

This week, it missed a deadline for a scheduled repayment on a $535 million loan organised by Russia's VTB Bank, according to a finance ministry source, putting the war-scarred southern African nation on course for default. An $850 million Eurobond launched in 2013 was rescheduled in late March after the government again struggled to make a repayment. 

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's classified it as a "selective default". Foreign debt - including $2 billion of commercial borrowing arranged without consulting parliament, as required - has ballooned in the last four years, largely due to expectations Mozambique was about to become a major natural gas producer. Those expectations are now being shown to be wildly premature, leaving the country with a foreign debt burden equal to $400 per head, only a fraction below the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) $435 annual per capita GDP estimate. 

The debt crisis has pegged back growth and sent the currency, the metical, to a record low of 59 against the dollar. A year ago, it was at 35. In a bid to slow the currency's decline, the central bank has been ploughing through foreign reserves, which have dropped from $2.4 billion at the end of last year to $1.8 billion, below the IMF's recommended threshold of three-months import cover. Furious at being kept in the dark over the clandestine borrowing, donors, including the IMF, have suspended aid, exacerbating the foreign currency crunch. 

Speaking on BBC radio last week, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the government's action was "clearly concealing corruption". Numerous calls to finance minister Adrian Maleiane's mobile phone this week went unanswered. The government says it has now come clean on all its outstanding debt. Donors and the IMF are waiting to see whether that is true. 

Following is a summary of what is known about Mozambique's debt: TOTAL DEBT - $11.64 BILLION - Foreign debt stood at $9.89 billion in April, Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario was quoted as saying in state media. This is equal to 79 percent of GDP, based on 2016 IMF forecasts. 

The proportion has more than doubled in the last four years. - Mozambique has an additional $1.75 billion of domestic debt, do Rosario said. 
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African Heads Of State Sign Charter On Maritime Security 

African Heads Of State Sign Charter On Maritime Security  | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
frican leaders have adopted and signed a draft Charter on Maritime Safety, Security and Development. The agreement is aimed at establishing a roadmap on maritime security in Africa and causing development and economic growth through Africa’s oceans and seas.  
At a summit in Lome, the capital of Togo, the African leaders signed the charter which is the culmination of previous summits, to provide peace, security and stability on Africa’s blue economy. Over 90 per cent of Africa’s trade is maritime-based. Prior to the signing of the charter, series of discussions were held by international maritime specialists and experts who met for five days. 

They examined maritime piracy, trafficking, illegal fishing, development of the blue economy and protection of marine ecosystem. These discussions culminated in a charter the Chairperson of African Union (AU), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and President Idriss Deby of Chad referred to as an uncommon feat. nkosazana-dlamini-zuma Chairperson of African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Channels Television’s correspondent, Omelogo Nnadi, says nearly 3,000 delegates from 54 African countries and and outside the continent were in Lome for the African Union Extraordinary Summit on maritime security and development. 

 The summit had focused on mapping out an African strategy for the protection of the continent’s seas. A Very Major Step For the development of the continent’s blue economy to happen, Africa needs to run like a cheetah, UN Economic Commission Executive Secretary, Dr Carlos Lopes, says. “What we need is a much deeper understanding of the transformation that is required by the continent and that transformation can be represented by the fastest moving animal on earth which happens to be in Africa – the cheetah,” he pointed out. He said Africa must prepare for the worst while expecting the best. 

The Chairperson of the AU Commission had listed major challenges facing the continent’s maritime development. She says Africa needs to have its own products being transported out of the continent with its own vessels. yemi-osinbajo-in-togo Nigeria’s Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo says the charter is a major step After the signing of the Charter on Maritime Safety, Security and Development, the President of Chad, Mr Deby and the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, said the agreement was a big achievement for Africa’s development.


 “One of the critical things here is that we have been able to get everyone to agree, which by itself, is a very major step. It, of course, enjoins every African country to provide certain services and armed services in their own locality,” Professor Osinbajo stressed. Before now, vast potentials of Africa’s blue economy have been infiltrated by criminals, pirates and smugglers, but the leaders have made a strong commitment to the monitoring and coordinating of activities in the continent’s waters through the charter. 

Part of what the leaders plan to achieve with the new charter are job creation and revenue increase that could run into billions of dollars.
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Somali pirates free 26 Asian sailors held since 2012

Somali pirates free 26 Asian sailors held since 2012 | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
MOGADISHU: Somali pirates have freed 26 Asian sailors held captive in a small fishing village for more than four years since their ship was hijacked in the Indian Ocean, government officials and a maritime expert said on Saturday. 

The sailors from China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan were seized when the Omani-flagged FV Naham 3 was hijacked close to the Seychelles in March 2012, when pirate attacks were common in the area. “The crew is staying overnight in Galkayo. 

They will arrive in (the Kenyan capital) Nairobi at 1830 local time tomorrow,” said John Steed, East Africa region manager for the Oceans Beyond Piracy group. The mayor of Galkayo in northern Somalia had earlier said the crew was set to arrive in Kenya on Saturday afternoon. “The crew did not say if ransom was paid,” mayor Hirsi Yusuf Barre told Reuters.

Their period of captivity is one of the longest among hostages seized by pirates in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation. Steed said one member of the crew had died during the hijacking while two succumbed to illness. 

Among those released, one was being treated for a gunshot wound on his foot and three were diabetic. The sailors were held in Dabagala near the town of Harardheere some 400 km (250 miles) northeast of the capital Mogadishu. Harardheere became known as Somalia’s main pirate base at the height of the crisis.
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Why Is It So Hard to Stop West Africa’s Vicious Pirates?

Why Is It So Hard to Stop West Africa’s Vicious Pirates? | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it

Defeating Somalia’s scourge of piracy required unprecedented cooperation by different navies, efforts to boost stability ashore, and, perhaps most importantly, the use of armed guards on commercial vessels, a radical break with shipping practices and tradition. 

The bad news is that while the counterpiracy recipe seems to have worked, shipping companies are already warning about complacency. Many fear that the United States and other navies operating in the area could declare victory and go home, potentially allowing pirates to return. 

What’s more, for all its success in the Indian Ocean, the Somali playbook appears unsuited to fighting piracy in the two corners of the world where it is still raging: West Africa and Southeast Asia.
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'Do you have an AK-47 and can you swim?' - Modern Day Piracy

'Do you have an AK-47 and can you swim?' - Modern Day Piracy | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
With piracy spreading along large swathes of Africa's coast, shipping firms and governments are deploying hi-tech weapons in the fight against the raiders.

Maritime piracy cost the world economy more than $700m (£528m) last year, according to Oceans Beyond Piracy, a non-profit organisation attempting to develop a globally co-ordinated response to the problem. 

It has now spread far beyond Somalia to West Africa, with the Gulf of Guinea now regarded by many as having the most dangerous waters in the world. What's more, piracy has gone hi-tech.
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Maritime Human Element Training 

Maritime Human Element Training  | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
Statistics continue to show that human factors are the root cause of 65% of maritime related incidents and accident with tangible and direct financial costs, safety and environmental issues. 

IAMI (International Association of Maritime Institutions) and IMarEST (Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology) are two UK based maritime organisations closely involved with delivering professional maritime training standards. In 2010 the International Maritime Organsiation (IMO) made significant changes to the International Standards for Training, Certification and Watch keeping (STCW) requirements. These included the introduction of mandatory training at an operational and management level in human factors, leadership and management (HELM).

In 2014, IAMI and IMarEST organised an initial conference to look at this relatively new training requirement and to understand how it was being delivered to mariners. This second look at HELM training takes its focus on the theme of “Human factor training – is it working?” 

The one-day conference is being held on board HQS WELLINGTON in London on Monday 28th November 2016. Delegate costs are £130 (plus VAT) for members of IAMI or IMarEST and £150 (plus VAT) for non-members.
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Maritime security exercise SEACAT starts in Singapore

Maritime security exercise SEACAT starts in Singapore | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
The 15th annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise was launched at the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Multinational Operations and Exercises Centre (MOEC) on August 22.

SEACAT focuses on regional cooperation to address shared maritime security challenges like smuggling, piracy and other illicit activities at sea, by bringing together liaison officers (LNOs) from Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and the United States to collaborate and execute practical maritime responses to multiple realistic scenarios. 

During the five-day command post exercise liaison officers will receive simulated reports of suspect vessels in the Straits of Singapore and Malacca, the Andaman Sea or the South China Sea. After sharing information from all available sources, such as Singapore’s Information Fusion Centre, Malaysia’s International Maritime Bureau, or the Philippines’ Coast Watch System, the LNOs will develop and implement response plans during a concurrent field training exercise. 

Based on the situation, aircraft and ships from participating navies and coast guards will investigate and conduct on scene boardings as necessary. “SEACAT enables nations to work through complex maritime security challenges in a cooperative and inclusive environment,” said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, Commander, Task Force 73. “Sharing ideas, innovation and experience allows us to learn from each other and capture best practices to prepare for real world contingencies.” SEACAT 2016 continues the trend of increasing complexity and increased participation into the exercise. 

This year, Coast Guard personnel from the U.S., the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency are also participating in the exercise. Also participating in SEACAT for the first time is USNS Montford Point (T-ESD-1), which was re-designated by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus as an expeditionary transport dock. 

ESDs are part of the new Expeditionary Support-class of ships and can be utilized for various scenarios in expeditionary logistics as well as maritime security platforms for exercises and operations. SEACAT, which began in 2002 under the name “Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism,” was renamed in 2012 to expand the scope of training among regional navies and coast guards.
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Raising Our Standards: Moving Beyond Basic Maritime Training

By Jaquelyn Burton (Coeval, Inc.) For many of the everyday practices in the maritime world – there are standards. Some are regulatory, still others are policy, some are habitual and many more are best practices and recommendations. With the number and investigations into maritime accidents and losses becoming more public and transparent – it begs the question, should there be more industry benchmarking and inspections to improve standard practices onboard vessels? 

Already there are recommendations and regulations that prescribe certain methods of operation for many ships and management offices. But, could there be an increased benefit in the safety of vessels if there were more industry organizations similar to how the Oil Companies International Marine Forum inspects and makes observations for tank-ships and terminal operators, that could make recommendations from the outside for different vessel types? 

In the drive for continuing improvement, training is key. However, the type and method that the training is given varies greatly in its usefulness and overall application if the standards, operational procedures and methods differ greatly between the time in practice learning and that which is actually practiced on the particular vessels that they are training for. 

The more specific the training is – the more effective it can be. The issue then becomes should there be hundreds or thousands of micro-specific training modules – so that beyond general training the details of that company’s equipment, procedures and specifications can be included. Moving beyond the basic training of “this is a lifeboat it has this equipment stored inside and meets the requirements of the regulations” into a training that covers more type specific information “this lifeboat made by this manufacturer has this equipment made and it stowed in this way, common problem during launching, recovery, stowage testing, and maintenance are know to be thus….” 

Most trainings only are constructed to meet the regulated minimum standard criteria without taking into the account the ship’s-specific equipment installations. The IMO has been responding to the lack of specific training for one area of maritime in the latest wave of ECDIS regulations – where not only is there an IMO model course – but the watchstander must also participate in type-specific training before working onboard ships equipped with an ECDIS system. And if they transfer to a vessel with a different system type – they must complete another training on that specific type.
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India Mulls Purchase of US Maritime Patrol Drones for Indian Ocean

India Mulls Purchase of US Maritime Patrol Drones for Indian Ocean | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
India is considering purchasing multi-mission Predator Guardian unnamed patrol aircraft from U.S. defense contractor General Atomics, the Times of India has revealed. 

New Delhi has expressed its desire to procure the U.S.-made unmanned aerial vehicles in a letter of request dispatched to the United States last week to officially begin the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process, according to unnamed sources. 

The Indian military has previously expressed interest in the Predator Guardian UAV but allegedly was rebuffed by the United States since India was not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and also did not have the status of Major Defense Partner. 

Now the situation has changed. As The Diplomat reported India became a member of MTRC in June 2016 and it was also granted Major Defense Partner status in the same month. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi allegedly raised the subject of drone purchases with U.S. President Barack Obama during an official state visit to the United States in June 2016.
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U.S., India and Japan Begin to Shape a New Order on Asia’s High Seas

U.S., India and Japan Begin to Shape a New Order on Asia’s High Seas | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
From the waters of the Philippine Sea this week emerged a partial outline of Washington’s vision for a new Asian maritime-security order that unites democratic powers to contend with a more-assertive and well-armed China.

A U.S. Navy aircraft-carrier strike group along with warships from India and Japan jointly practiced anti-submarine warfare and air-defense and search-and-rescue drills in one of the largest and most complex exercises held by the three countries. 

The maneuvers were being tracked by a Chinese surveillance vessel, a U.S. Navy officer aboard the carrier USS John C. Stennis said on Wednesday. Last week, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing hoped the training “will be conducive to regional peace, security and stability.” 

Washington and Tokyo have long cooperated closely on defense. And the U.S. has been working to deepen strategic ties with India and to encourage New Delhi to play a more active role, not just in the Indian Ocean but also in the Pacific, as China’s rise shifts the regional balance of power. “Americans are looking for those who can share the burden,” said C. Raja Mohan, director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s India center. A strengthened three-way partnership among the U.S., Japan and India is “an important strategic shift.”
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Setting the Record Straight on US-India South China Sea Patrols

Setting the Record Straight on US-India South China Sea Patrols | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
In the days preceding Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Washington, the state of the Indo-U.S. defense relationship has been a popular topic of conversation. Assessments in both Washington and Delhi have mostly lauded the progress in defense ties overseen by Modi during his two years in office. 

Yet many of these laudatory reviews have also been accompanied by a caveat: while impressive, the gains to date have been uneven and a great deal of work remains to be done. As evidence the defense relationship is still underperforming, many accounts cited a seemingly embarrassing episode from this spring, when India appeared to reject a U.S. proposal to conduct joint naval patrols. 

In the popular telling, Washington “jumped the gun” by proposing such patrols in private only to have Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar flatly reject the idea in public. Commentators billed the episode as symptomatic of Washington’s overzealous efforts to court India at a pace and level of enthusiasm not matched by Delhi. The events that spawned this narrative resemble the popular children’s game “Telephone,” in which a short story is conveyed through hushed tones one-by-one down a line of people. By the time the final person recites the story aloud, it often bears comically little resemblance to the original.
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Australian navy warship HMAS Darwin seizes almost a tonne of heroin off Africa

Australian navy warship HMAS Darwin seizes almost a tonne of heroin off Africa | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
An Australian Navy ship has seized almost a tonne of heroin worth an estimated $800 million in a series of high seas drug busts off the coast of Africa. HMAS Darwin intercepted the first smuggling boat on May 21, discovering 380 kilogram of heroin. 

The ship's helicopter spotted two further suspicious vessels which were intercepted on May 22 and 25, with 512kg of heroin found on one and 60kg on the other. Under Australian policy, seized drugs are analysed, weighed then disposed of by being dumped back in the sea. 

These drugs originate in Pakistan and Afghanistan and follow ancient ocean smuggling routes to Africa known as the 'hash highway' and the 'smack track,' eventually reaching Europe. Traditionally, drugs from this part of the world passed through central Asia and Iran to reach Europe. 

But conflict in Syria and Iraq and better law enforcement has forced greater use of the Africa smuggling route, demonstrated by a succession of very large drug seizures by Australian and other warships in seas off eastern Africa. Commander of defence force joint operations Vice Admiral David Johnston said these latest seizures took the navy's drug haul to more than four tonnes in just under two years. 
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UN top court to hear Kenya-Somalia border dispute

UN top court to hear Kenya-Somalia border dispute | Maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean | Scoop.it
The UN's top court said on Thursday it would hold hearings in September into a maritime border dispute between Somalia and Kenya that may decide the fate of potentially lucrative oil and gas reserves. 

Kenya will respond to a Somali complaint that Nairobi wrongly claims swathes of seabed that Mogadishu insists are its own during four days of hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague from September 19. 

Mogadishu is seeking to claw back authority over its territorial waters, including an area of the Indian Ocean bordering Kenya's territorial waters that is potentially rich in oil and gas deposits. 

Kenya, which has had troops in southern Somalia since 2011, first as an invading force and then as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission, lays claim to a triangle of water stretching for more than 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 square miles) that is also claimed by Mogadishu.
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