South East Asia
As a result of more and increasingly intensive attacks in South East Asia, it has been confirmed that International Marine Transportation Limited (IMT), Exxon Mobil's UK-based shipping affiliate, is going to start conducting Best Management Practices 4 (BMP4) audits for vessels transiting through the area.
BMP4 has been effective in hardening vessels transiting through the Indian Ocean so that even an unarmed merchant ship, while by no means impregnable to an attack by pirates, is now much harder to capture.
Gerry Northwood OBE, COO of MAST, said:
BMP4 been designed for the Indian Ocean and long distance ocean passages, therefore it needs to be tailored to the conditions of South East Asia, which involve voyages with short sea legs between ports.
Vessels should be working closely with highly experienced security advisors to develop, with the ship's Master and crew, additional security measures and drills. This will guarantee that consideration of the ship's operational schedule, the threat in various regions and the crew's capacity for additional duties are all taken into account.
With minimum manning and busy schedules, ships' crews work very hard and often lack the time to properly focus on security and conduct effective 24-hour watches, especially while at anchor.
Due to the complex nature of the region, involving different countries, territorial waters and jurisdictions, the use of armed guards is not advisable. The choice of an unarmed security team would be the best solution. It can not only advise the Master and crew on security hardening, but can additionally maintain a proper and effective lookout, providing the much needed assistance to ensure security measures remain effective while at anchor, in port and during cargo operations.
Peace talks between the rival Governments in Libya are taking place in Morocco. The UN envoy for Libya has reported that both parties have reached a draft accord and are close to a final agreement.
Meanwhile, ISIS has taken control of another town in Libya as Harawa, east of Sirte, was seized on Friday. ISIS has declared an interest in controlling the oil ports in the Gulf of Sidra, primarily Ra's Lanuf and Al Sidra Oil Terminal. The area is currently under the control of a local militia leader and ISIS has entered into discussions with him about future of the area.
The war in Yemen continues with the Saudi led air campaign in its 11th week. The UN is attempting to broker peace talks between the official government and the Houthi Rebels. However, the official government does not wish to compromise at this stage and is demanding that the Houthis retreat from all cities they have taken since September although there is growing international pressure to reach some form of compromise.
The Houthis have managed to launch a Scud missile into Saudi Arabia, but the Saudis have claimed that they intercepted it with two Patriot missiles (Note: Scud missiles, especially the old ones, are not a danger to shipping. They are ground-to-ground missiles that target a fixed position -quite inaccurately- rather than a moving target).
Another Iranian ship carrying aid has left Iran on its way to Yemen and the Iranians have also issued a warning to the Saudi Coalition after bombs from air strikes landed close to their Embassy in Sanaa.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is also expanding its footprint in Yemen and now controls Al Mukalla, a city and port in South East Yemen.
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