“Remove all abandoned ships or lose them”, NIMASA orders owners.

In a bid to ensure safe and secure shipping on the Nigerian territorial waters, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has warned all owners of abandoned ships/vessels to urgently remove same from the Nigerian territorial waters on or before April 28 or risk sanctions ranging from forfeiture or removal by the agency at the owner’s expense.

The Director General of the Agency, Dakuku Peterside, who stated this recently in Lagos noted that it is instructive to ensure that our waters remain safe for navigation in order to advance our maritime interests.

He, therefore, warned that all abandoned ships would be declared as wrecks and the agency would ensure that nothing impedes safe navigation in Nigerian waters by removing them.

“In line with our mandate on the protection of the marine environment and safety of navigation within Nigerian waters and our powers as the receiver of wrecks; owners of all abandoned ships, vessels and derelicts are sternly warned to seek removal plan permits from the Agency and ensure the removal of these wrecks and derelicts from our waters on or before April 28th, 2017 failure of which would attract appropriate sanction,” Mr. Peterside said

He also reeled out the sanctions to include removal of such wrecks at the owners’ expense as well as forfeiture of the vessels stating that the agency is empowered to do so in line with the powers vested in it by the Merchant Shipping Act 2007 and other enabling Acts and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) instruments.

It should be noted that Nigeria is party to the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks (Nairobi Convention 2007). The Convention is a treaty of the IMO with the purpose of prompt and effective removal of shipwrecks located in the parties’ territorial waters including its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that may be hazardous to navigation or environment. The convention gives States’ Authority to remove wrecks and in Nigeria’s case NIMASA is the receiver of wrecks.

All abandoned vessels littering the waterways and the shoreline of the country are affected by this directive, the agency said.

The management of NIMASA has constantly expressed the agency’s commitment to ensuring a safer waterway for Nigerian maritime stakeholders to conduct their business.

 

Source: Premium Times

Navy arrests 75, impounds three ships, 80 boats in Niger Delta.

The Nigeria Navy (NNS Delta) has arrested 75 persons suspected to be involved in illegal oil bunkering, militancy, kidnapping, impersonation and gun production in Delta State and other parts of the Niger Delta region.

It uncovered the gun-manufacturing workshop that specialises in producing local pistols and rifles at Opuama in Ughelli South Council. The Navy also impounded three vessels and 80 boats loaded full of stolen crude oil.

They were nabbed in an Operation Delta Safe raid on militants.

The Commander of NNS Delta, Commodore Joseph Djunve, while parading the suspects and the impounded vessels and boats at the NNS base in Warri yesterday said they were arrested in different parts of the Niger Delta, particularly in Delta State.

He said the arrests were made in compliance with the directive of the Chief of Naval staff, who declared war on illegal oil bunkering, piracy and other criminal activities.

Commodore Djunve said different types of weapons were being fabricated at the workshop and that there was intelligence that they also used their equipment to rupture pipelines to steal petroleum products. A box full of all sorts of equipment used in the illicit act was paraded with the suspects at the Warri naval base.

One of the arrested gun manufacturers, who gave his name as Joseph Oba said he is a loyalist of the Farah Dagogo, a militant leader in Bayelsa State and that he was invited by some persons to join the gang without knowing what he was walking into.

67 Migrants Drown After Boats Capsized Off Libya, 3,000 Rescued, Including Nigerians

67 migrants are feared dead off Libya and the coastal town of Zuwara after more than 3,000 people attempted the crossing between Tuesday and Wednesday. The crew of the Swedish rescue vessel Poseidon discovered around 52 bodies in the hold of a wooden boat from which around 400 people were rescued some 30 miles north of Libya.

They were found close to the engine and are believed to have died from inhalation of engine fumes and asphyxia. Originally, rescuers counted 30 bodies but a spokesman for the Italian coastguard said the real death toll stands at 52.

In a separate incident, another 15 people are feared drowned after their boat capsized around five miles off the coastal town of Zuwara on Wednesday. A spokesman for the coastguard there said they had saved 20 people and recovered three bodies. The survivors, primarily from Nigeria and Ghana, told the coastguard they were traveling in a group of about 40 when their boat overturned in bad weather. They had only travelled some four hours after they left the shoreline.

The coastguard started the rescue at 4am and continued with the search into the afternoon but no more bodies were spotted. The tragedies came during an especially busy day in the waters outside Libya.The Italian coastguard said in a statement that around 3,000 people had been rescued in 10 different operations throughout Wednesday on the central Mediterranean route to Europe. That brings the total number of people rescued since Saturday to about 8,170 people.
Rescuers from the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Swedish coastguard and Italian Navy rescued at least 1,800 people between themselves. Most of them were picked up within a square mile some 30 miles north of Zuwara. Around 11am, rescuers from the Poseidon and MOAS were engaged with the boat in which the bodies were discovered when another wooden vessel with 600 migrants appeared on the horizon. An hour later, a dinghy with some 100 people on board was heading towards the rescue vessels.
The result is that some 150 people were left stranded on the wooden boat waiting while the Italian navy vessel Fiorillo made its way to the area because all other vessels in the area were filled to capacity. People started feeling sick provoking a chain reaction, while many more suffered from dehydration. Eventually, a doctor from MSF treated the most pressing cases and rescuers from MOAS supplied water making the wait more bearable.
According to Migrant Report, the migrants left Zuwara at around midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday. Most are from Pakistan and Bangladesh and sub-Saharan Africa.
Source: Migrant ReporT

Norwegian Defense Chief Regrets Illegal Weapon Sales To Paramilitary Forces in Nigeria

Norwegian Defense Chief Haakon Bruun-Hansen admitted on Thursday that military officials had done a poor job of selling several surplus vessels in 2012 and 2013, and he apologized for that at a parliamentary inquiry. The vessels wound up under the control of paramilitary forces in Nigeria, and a former military employee has been charged with corruption.

Admiral and Defense Chief Haakon Bruun-Hansen apologized at a parliamentary inquiry  on Thursday for the sale of surplus military vessels to Nigerian paramilitary interests. PHOTO: Forsvaret

“The fact that the vessels have landed in Nigeria under Nigerian flag reflects a breakdown in our systems, and I apologize for that,” Bruun-Hansen said during a hearing before the Parliament’s disciplinary committee. He was not defense chief at the time of the sales, but took responsibility for what’s become a military scandal that extended into his tenure. Norwegian regulations prohibit the sales or export of material or services to private buyers who may arm the vessels and offer them for use in areas of conflict, and those regulations were violated.

News bureau NTB reported that Bruun-Hansen admitted that military officials did not carry out a thorough check of the company, CAS Global, that bought six missile torpedo boats (MTBs) and the support vessel KMN Horten three years ago.

This Norwegian frigate, now phased out of active service, was sold to a company that intends to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia. PHOTO: Forsvarets mediesenter/Tomas Moss

The vessels were sold after they’d been stripped of weapons, rebuilt and repainted so that they could be classified as civilian vessels. Representatives for CAS Global had also declared that the vessels would sail under British flag and British jurisdiction, and with European crews. Norway’s Foreign Ministry, which is responsible for controlling exports of military material, then cleared the sale. The Horten at one point was reported to be part of a transaction involving anti-piracy efforts off Somalia.

Both the defense and foreign  ministries were under political leadership of the former left-center government at the time, headed by Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg who is now secretary general of NATO. Current Foreign Minister Børge Brende, also testifying at Thursday’s hearing, said that much remains unclear about the sale and export of the vessels, and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Brende had notified the state prosecutor(Riksadvokaten) about possible criminal violations.

Dagbladet’s revelations
The so-called “Nigerian boats” scandal emerged after a series of reports in newspaperDagbladet, and several members of the parliamentary committee noted on Thursday that a simple Internet search would have revealed that CAS Global only had a postbox address. Defense department officials nonetheless received the Nigerians who represented CAS Global and wanted to inspect the vessels that were up for sale.

“Does this mean that anybody can buy these boats, as long as they sign a declaration?” asked Erik Skutle, a Member of Parliament for the Conservatives.  “Even terrorists? How on earth could this happen?”

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Bruun-Hansen and the head of the defense department’s logistics organization (FLO), Petter Jansen, tried to answer the many questions that arose after Dagbladet revealed how the Norwegian equipment landed in the hands of owners described as Nigerian warlords. Another former Norwegian Coast Guard vessel, theKV Titran, was also sold through a brokerage company in a transaction that both Jansen and Bruun-Hansen also admitted did not comply with regulations. It was sold on to a South African weapons trader, Nautic Africa, which in turn sold it to another Nigerian company.

Corruption charges
Norwegian and British police made three arrests in January in connection with the sales. A former FLO employee who was responsible for sales has since been charged with corruption and Jansen, his boss, admitted that his own follow-up of the case had also been deficient. He claimed he since has made many changes in the FLO as a result of the scandal.

Harald Sunde, who served as defense chief when the sales were conducted, also apologized on Thursday and said he was disappointed over all the mistakes made in connection with the vessel sales. He blamed a difficult reorganization of FLO at the time for the breakdown. Now both prosecutors and Norwegian police are investigating and more charges may be filed.

Helge Thorheim, a Member of Parliament for the Progress Party, told NTB that he thinks the defense department was under pressure from the Defense Ministry to sell the vessels, to raise money at a time of tight budgets. “But it’s very difficult to get to the bottom of this case,” Thorheim told NRK.

Source – www.newsinenglish.no

Underwater Hunt for Malaysian Airline Resumes

The hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 resumed Monday in a desolate stretch of the Indian Ocean, more than six months after the jet vanished.

The GO Phoenix, the first of three ships that will spend up to a year hunting for the wreckage far off Australia’s west coast, is expected to spend 12 days hunting for the jet before heading to shore to refuel.

Crews will use sonar, video cameras and jet fuel sensors to scour the seabed for the Boeing 777, which vanished for reasons unknown on March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

The search has been on hold for four months so crews could map the seabed in the search zone, about 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) west of Australia. The 60,000-square kilometer (23,000-square mile) search site lies along what is known as the “seventh arc” — a stretch of ocean where investigators believe the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed. Officials analyzed transmissions between the plane and a satellite to estimate where it entered the water.

Two other ships being provided by Dutch contractor Fugro are expected to join the Malaysian-contracted GO Phoenix later this month.

The ships will be dragging sonar devices called towfish through the water about 100 meters (330 feet) above the seabed to hunt for the wreckage. The towfish are also equipped with sensors that can detect the presence of jet fuel, and are expected to be able to cope with the dizzying depths of the search zone, which is 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) deep in places.

If anything of interest is spotted on the sonar, crews will attach a video camera to the towfish to film the seabed.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan, whose agency is leading the search, has expressed cautious optimism that the plane will eventually be found.

“We’re confident in the analysis and we’re confident that the aircraft is close to the seventh arc,” he said.