Benin seeks planes, boats to fight West Africa pirates:
Benin is seeking to buy planes and patrol boats to fight a rise in piracy off its coast, and may also ask the United Nations for help policing regional waters, the U.S. envoy to the West African state said on Tuesday.
Piracy is a growing threat to shipping in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea
– a major source of oil, metals and agricultural products to world markets – with a spate of attacks off Benin this year marking an expansion in the area pirates operate.
“Benin is hoping to acquire one or two light aircraft to enhance surveillance capacity and is looking to both the French and the United States as possible sources for that,” James Knight, the U.S. ambassador to Benin, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“We are thinking that would be an excellent idea ... as surveillance is the most significant lack of capability on their part,” he said.
According to Mr. Knight Benin’s government was also in talks with France for three patrol boats, to add to the country’s two “armed and very fast” 27-foot defender class vessels given by the United States last year.
A Benin government official was not immediately available to comment.
While attacks in the Gulf of Guinea have not hit levels seen off Somalia’s coast, analysts say pirates have spotted a window of opportunity with weak local security and a craggy coastline which offers natural hideouts.
More than 20 attacks have been reported off Benin alone this year, and experts say many more likely went unreported in the Gulf of Guinea region as shipping companies sought to avoid increased insurance premiums.
Vessel queue at Newcastle rose to 11 ships or 9 days waiting time
Coal shipments from Newcastle port dropped 26 per cent to 1.871 million tonnes in the week ended August 15 due to planned rail maintenance, the Newcastle Port Corporation said on its website on Tuesday. The vessel queue at the port rose to 11 ships and the average waiting time for vessels was slightly higher at just over nine days.
Twenty ships were travelling to the port to load coal, down from 28 the previous week, the port said.
In a separate report, the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator (HVCCC), which helps coordinate coal exports, put the number of vessels in the queue at the port at 30 by midnight on Monday, up from 25 a week earlier.
The HVCCC calculates the number of ships in the vessel queue using a wider radius from the port than the Newcastle Port Corporation.
Nigeria and Benin will cooperate to fight the growing threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which has seen a number of attacks in recent weeks. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan made the announcement during bilateral talks with Benin, which were convened to address the issue.
"Criminals don't respect political boundaries in their nefarious activities, so we will cooperate with one another to find lasting solutions to the problems they pose," Jonathan said on Thursday. He was speaking to Benin’s President Boni Yayi during bilateral talks in Abuja, Nigeria. The talks came after Yayi called for a regional summit on the issue of piracy.
Yayi said that pirates and bandits were threatening the maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and called for action, led by Nigeria, to check the menace.
Jonathan said that the relevant Nigerian officials will work with their counterparts in Benin to find ways to deal with the problem.
On Thursday, Chief of Staff of Benin’s Navy Maxime Ahoyo said that, "Dozens of ships are already fleeing our shores due to fears of these pirates."
The tiny nation has been hit by a series of attacks on ships in its waters in recent weeks, forcing London's maritime insurance market to add Benin to a list of areas deemed high risk.
Ahoyo said ships in the country's waters were leaving while those due to enter them were also staying away.
Benin, which exports cotton and is an entry port for land-locked countries such as Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, collects about 100 billion CFA francs (US$213 million), or some 40% of government receipts, from port activities each year.
Joseph Ahahanzo, managing director of the port of Cotonou, which is managed by the Bollore Group, warned several weeks ago that 80-85 percent of customs duties were collected in the country's ports and business had already been hit.
Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which stretches through a dozen countries from Guinea to Angola, is not comparable to the waters off Somalia, but analysts warn that it is set to increase unless countries beef up weak navies.
more at: www.defenceweb.co...
Kuwait increases security around new Mubarak al-Kabir port
Kuwait has beefed up security around a controversial port project ahead of a visit by an Iraqi delegation for talks, a security official was quoted as saying Sunday, afp agency reports.
The increased security around the Mubarak al-Kabir port on Bubiyan Island follows remarks by an Iraqi MP in the Kuwaiti press, which cited him as saying Iraqi militant groups could "easily invade Kuwait". The MP told AFP, however, that his comments were misinterpreted.
China's first aircraft carrier returns to port after smooth sea trials
China's first aircraft carrier has returned to port after completing a "smooth" set of sea trials designed to test its capabilities, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Monday.
The 300-metre (990-foot) ship docked in the northeastern port of Dalian on Sunday morning after five days of trials that have sparked international concern about the country's widening naval reach.
The carrier tests came amid heightened tensions over a number of maritime territorial disputes involving China, notably in the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas and is claimed by several countries.
Dockworkers set off fireworks as the vessel, a refitted old Soviet carrier called the Varyag, returned to port, Xinhua said, adding that the ship would now undergo further work and testing.
"The sea trials carried out by the aircraft carrier on its maiden voyage went smoothly," it said.
Leak on Shell north sea platform Gannet Alpha 112 miles east of Aberdeen
A leak has been discovered on a North Sea oil platform owned by Royal Dutch Shell, UK based Mirror reports.
The company said it was working to repair the leak which was found in a flow line connecting an oil well to the Gannet Alpha platform.
A clean-up vessel and spotter plane have been sent to the site 112 miles east of Aberdeen.
The company did not say how much oil had been spilt.
A Shell spokesman said: "We can confirm we are managing an oil leak in a flow line that serves the Shell-operated Gannet Alpha platform. We deployed a remote-operated vehicle to check for a subsea leak after a light sheen was noticed in the area.
"We have stemmed the leak significantly and we are taking further measures to isolate it. The subsea well has been shut in, and the flow line is being de-pressurised." More to read www.mirror.co.uk/...
Crew member missing after tug Chieftain sinks on River Thames
A major search and rescue operation is under way for a crew member missing after a tug capsized and sank on the River Thames in London, The Citizen reports.
Two other crew members were safely rescued after the tug, towing a barge with a crane on it, went down off Greenwich Pier in south London.
The search for the missing crew member from the tug, called Chieftain, was being co-ordinated by the Woolwich-based London coastguard and involved police, the Port of London Authority, the fire brigade and lifeboat crews.
A Port of London Authority spokesman said: "It is believed there were three crew members on the Chieftain. Two were safely recovered and were taken ashore. A major search-and-rescue operation is going on." More at www.chorleycitize...
Brazil’s Maceió port in northeastern state Alagoas will launch a tender in April 2012 for the construction of a passenger terminal and other infrastructure works, a port spokesperson told BNamericas, Dredging Today reports.
“Although an overall budget has not yet been worked out, construction of the passenger terminal is estimated to cost 12mn reais [US$7.49mn],” the spokesperson said.
The work, which also entails building a new dock area, is aimed at boosting exports as well as increasing the port’s passenger handling capacity to meet the rise in demand expected during the 2014 World Cup, according to the official. Maceió is one of the 12 cities selected to host the 2014 World Cup.
Sunken yacht in Poole Harbour is a danger for larger vessels
A RACING yacht with three sailors on board sank after getting into difficulty in Poole Harbour.
The vessel went down in the harbour’s main shipping channel with all three people being rescued by a passing RIB.
However, because of its location the yacht has been deemed a danger to larger vessels.
Yesterday, Poole Harbour Authority was set to co-ordinate a recovery operation carried out by Parkstone Yacht Club.
A Poole RNLI spokesman confirmed divers would be needed to facilitate this recovery. Read more at www.bournemouthec...
Pirate attacks off West Africa's coast have increased to levels that rival those seen in Somalia, insurers say, prompting maritime agencies to focus on setting aside their rivalries and cooperate to fight the rising threat.
The International Maritime Bureau says Nigeria and Benin reported 18 pirate attacks in the first half of 2011. While smaller than figures attributed to Somali pirates, analysts say the number of attacks off Nigerian waters is underreported because some ships carry illegal oil cargo and others fear their insurance rates will rise. Read more at lacrossetribune.c...