Washington Post, 5 June 2012 & Latin American Herald Tribune, 05 June 2012
The Colombian Navy seized at least 2.5 tons of cocaine off the Pacific coast earlier this week, reportedly marking the largest seizure in the area in the past four years. The shipment, apparently bound for Central America, was intercepted in a joint operation with the US Coast Guard on Monday. In a separate operation, near the Caribbean island of San Andres, authorities confiscated some USD $300,000 from a speedboat that appeared to be returning to Colombia from Central America. According to reports, the latest haul brings the total amount of cocaine seized by the Colombian Navy this year to nearly 35 tons.
Defence Web, 11 June 2012
The third and final SIGMA-class vessel for the Royal Moroccan Navy completed sea acceptance trials in the North Sea this week in preparation for its delivery in September. The three SIGMA (Ship Integrated Geometrical Modularity Approach) ships are part of a 2008 USD$1.2 billion contract with Schelde Naval Shipbuilding for two light frigate (SIGMA 9813) and one light frigate (SIGMA 10513). The SIGMA-class vessels, as well as the forthcoming procurement of a FREMM multirole frigate from France, are part of Morocco’s efforts to modernize and expand its maritime forces as the government shifts its national security priorities from protecting the deserts of the Western Sahara to securing the country’s coastline.
DefenceWeb, 06 June 2012
In order to counter the growing piracy problem along its coast, Ghana is setting up an electronic vessel traffic management and information system (VTMIS). The monitoring technology, supplied by Finnish company Eltel Networks and funded by French bank BNP Paribas, will be able to detect and identify vessels, receive regular ship reports, communicate with watercraft in the area, and provide local weather information. The VTMIS will complement Ghanaian naval and aircraft in the region and according to local authorities, will help prevent “chaos” from occurring in the Gulf of Guinea. The region is a hub for oil tanker traffic and although the piracy problem is not as severe as Somalia’s, analysts say an increase in scope and number of attacks could affect shipping and investment in the region.
DefenceWeb, 04 June 2012
On Friday, President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned Nigeria’s first locally built warship, NNS Andoni. Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ola Ibrahim, said the construction of the Andoni was a landmark event for the Nigerian Navy and a contribution to the government’s transformation agenda, which the President says will see the country acquire an air force within 15 years. The vessel, which is equipped with a 20 millimetre Suncraft Ralco cannon, is one of the Nigerian Navy’s 24 planned acquisitions under the 2012 defence budget. According to Vice-Admiral Ibrahim, the Navy is seeking government approval to acquire up to 49 ships and 42 helicopters over the next ten years to police the nation’s territorial waterways and the Gulf of Guinea, which have been rife with security issues.
Indian Ocean Piracy: “Pirates release tanker after seven months”
DefenceWeb, 12 June 2012
Upon receiving a USD $4 million ransom last Monday, Somali pirates released a Greek-owned chemical tanker and its 21 crewmembers. The gunmen, who held the tanker and its crew for seven months, initially demanded $8m from the vessel’s owners after the tanker was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden last October. However, according to online news website the Somalia Report, there was disagreement in February between the captors over the desired amount of ransom to be paid. After the dispute reportedly turned physical, it was agreed that $4m would be accepted. The rampant piracy problem off the coast of Somalia is being fought mostly by international naval forces due to the ineffectiveness of the Somali government. According to the International Maritime Bureau, gunmen in the Indian Ocean have hijacked 12 vessels and taken 188 hostages during 61 attacks so far this year.
Defense News, 08 June 2012
The Vikramaditya, a refurbished Russian aircraft carrier purchased by India, reportedly began sea trials in northern Russia on June 8th. The carrier is scheduled for 120 days of sea trials before moving to the Barents Sea to test its air capability. Originally planned for delivery to India in 2008, the carrier has been plagued with delays but is now expected to arrive by December 2012. The USD $2.3 billion converted carrier will be equipped with MiG-29K aircraft and includes a full flight deck with ski-jump, allowing aircraft to take off without catapults. New Delhi is also building its own Vikrant-class carrier, which is under construction at Cochin Shipyard in Kochi. The Indian government continues to increase its naval presence in order to gain an advantage in border disputes and to secure its booming maritime trade routes.
Defense News, 11 June 2012
A laptop computer installed on a Taiwanese Kuang Hua VI-class naval vessel went missing last month, raising concerns that it has been acquired by China. A navy spokesman announced on Monday that he was unsure how the computer disappeared, admitting that there were security flaws at Taiwan’s largest naval base. The laptop, which is owned by a private contractor, reportedly contains “highly sensitive” information, including communications code and missile data. Taiwan’s navy upgraded its fleet in 2010 with 10 Kuang Hua VI-class ships, capable of reducing radar detection risk through “stealth technologies.” The vessels were designed to deter China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy in the Taiwan Strait due to long-standing attempts by Beijing to annex the island nation.
Defense News, 05 June 2012 & Hindustan, 12 June 2012
Japan and India conducted their first ever bilateral naval exercise on Saturday in Sagami bay. Four Indian warships, INS Rana, Shivalik, Karmukh and Shakti, along with two Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) destroyers, a rescue aircraft and a patrol helicopter will take place in the exercise off the coast of Tokyo. Japan and India have participated in multilateral exercises together, however the decision to hold bilateral exercises was made last November during talks between the Japanese and Indian defence ministers. The two navies also plan to conduct routine passage exercises during the visit of Japanese ships to Indian ports later this year. Analysts note that the recent joint exercise is part of greater defence ties between New Delhi and Tokyo; the two sides are working on a joint Defence Action Plan as well as discussing the possibility of establishing a trilateral strategic dialogue that would include the United States. Some observers have called the increasing cooperation between India and Japan a positive development in regional relations, while others see it more as a move to contain the growing influence of China.
Following the JMSDF exercise, the four Indian Navy (IN) vessels are set to dock at the Chinese port city of Shanghai on Wednesday, the first IN port visit to China since 2006. INS Rana, a Rajput-class guided missile destroyer, Shivalik, a stealth frigate, Karmuk, a Kora-class corvette, and Shakti, a fleet tanker, and their combined crews of about 1400 will take part in the five-day goodwill visit. Observers note that the visit is being “handled to make maximum public impact” as both China and India, despite misgivings about each other’s rise, have made efforts to demonstrate their emerging rapprochement; in March, the two rising Asian naval powers agreed on a proposal to undertake joint operations against pirates and share technological knowhow on seabed research.