MARITIME

16 November 2022: East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Around 240 people were rescued and at least 17 died (an updated figure as initially it was reported that 14 had died) when a boat caught fire off the coast of Indonesia. Three boats, as well as local fishermen, came to the scene to assist in the rescue efforts, authorities said. No word on the cause of the fire which is being investigated. The KM Express Cantika 77 was headed to Kalabahi from Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara province when it caught fire. Some passengers jumped overboard during the panic.

MARITIME

10 November 2022: Neches River

A state licensed pilot from the Sabine Pilots took navigational control of the Gas Ares as it was heading to a loading dock on the Neches River. Due to wind conditions, the pilot planned to have an escort tug for the transit through the Sabine Neches Canal and Neches River. After the pilot arranged a passing with a tow, the pilot ordered the Gas Ares to dead slow ahead to avoid making a wake as the carrier passed a pipeline removal project to starboard near the shoreline (outside of the navigation channel). Winds were strong on the carrier’s starboard side, slowly setting the vessel—which was already on the left side of the 400-foot-wide channel for the passing arrangement with the tow—further toward the left side of the channel toward vessels moored at docks on that side of the channel. With the reduction of the ship’s speed, the Gas Ares’s rudder became less effective, and was not able to move the vessel to starboard and away from the moored vessels on the left side of the channel by rudder and engine alone or by using the escort tug to pull on the vessel’s starboard quarter. Without enough headway, the pilot was unable to steer the vessel back to the center of the channel and avoid striking the outboard moored tug. The NTSB determined the probable cause of the collision was the pilot’s decision to reduce the vessel’s speed in order to create less wake when passing a pipeline removal project, causing a loss of rudder effectiveness in strong crosswinds that set the carrier toward moored vessels.

MARITIME

4 November 2022: France, Algeria, Guinea

In a case that demonstrates the great risks faced by migrants that resort to smugglers, an eight-year-old boy has been rescued by law enforcement after being kidnapped by fellow migrants and held for ransom. The boy and his mother had left Côte d’Ivoire in early 2021, hoping to make the journey to Europe. They travelled to Tunisia, where a smuggler promised to help them and a group of Guinean migrants cross the Mediterranean Sea. Instead, the smuggler took their money and disappeared. In October 2021, convinced that the mother and smuggler had been accomplices since they shared the same nationality, the other migrants kidnapped the then seven-year-old boy and demanded $3,000 for his safe return. After the boy’s mother reported the kidnapping to authorities in Côte d’Ivoire, the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in Abidjan turned to INTERPOL’s Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants (HTSM) unit for assistance. Authorities in Algeria located the boy and arrested one suspect in the outskirts of Algiers. A medical screening confirmed that the child had not suffered any direct physical violence or sexual abuse during the ordeal. In parallel, Guinean police located and arrested the suspect who had sent the ransom demand to the boy’s mother.

MARITIME

11 November 2022: Toulon, France

France allowed the Ocean Viking rescue ship that was carrying more than 200 migrants and refugees rescued in the Mediterranean to dock at their port of Toulon. This followed terse communications with Italy over the fate of the vessel. Gerald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, said that the Italian government’s ban on the boat was “incomprehensible” and “selfish.” “In this context, France decided on an exceptional basis to make up for the Italian government’s unacceptable behavior and to invite the ship to come to the military port of Toulon,” Darmanin said at a news conference. Of the 234 people on board, including 57 children, France agreed to accept a third, Germany another third and the rest are to be taken in by other European Union countries. The situation caused France to say they will discard an agreement with Rome to take in more than 3,000 migrants and refugees who had come to Italy previously. France also says it will reinforce controls at its borders with its southeastern neighbor. “France very deeply regrets that Italy has decided not to behave like a responsible European state,” Darmanin said and added, “there will be extremely strong consequences” for France’s bilateral relationship with Italy over the issue.

MARITIME

17 November 2022: Lower Mississippi River

An electrical generator set (genset) failure and subsequent loss of steering led to the grounding of a towing vessel near Greenville, Mississippi, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday. The towing vessel Marquette Warrior was pushing 35 loaded dry cargo barges down the Lower Mississippi River on Nov. 21, 2021, when several barges grounded on the riverbank. Four barges were damaged, including a hopper barge with bean cargo that partially sank. None of the nine people on board the Marquette Warrior were injured. The grounding resulted in $1.24 million in damages to the vessel, barges and cargo. As the vessel was transiting, the engineer saw flickering lights and a ground fault indication on the main switchboard. The engineer contacted the pilot in the wheelhouse to request the pilot stop the vessel so he could troubleshoot what he suspected was a problem with the electrical system. The pilot was not able to stop the vessel due to the size of the tow and its location. The engineer identified an issue with the online port electrical genset. At the same time, the pilot noticed that he had lost steering control. Hearing that the vessel had lost steering, the engineer decided to switch online gensets, which necessitated a temporary loss of the towboat’s electrical power. Although the engineer resolved the electrical issue by switching gensets and restored steering relatively quickly, the loss of steering in the swift current and limited maneuverability of the large tow prevented the pilot from avoiding grounding. Electricians’ analysis of the genset’s alternator following the grounding indicated that the most likely cause of the failure was rubbing or chaffing of the sensing wiring harness, which led to arcing between terminal block posts, heat buildup, insulation failure and eventual winding ring terminal connection failure. NTSB investigators determined it is likely the chaffing of the wiring harness took place over the 72 hours the genset ran between a November 7 maintenance inspection and the grounding on November 21. The NTSB determined the probable cause of the grounding was a loss of steering, likely due to a wiring harness within an electrical generator that was improperly positioned during a maintenance inspection, resulting in the harness contacting the terminal posts, eventually causing the loss of 3-phase electrical power to the steering pump motors. “Proper operation and maintenance of electrical equipment is required to avoid damage to vessel critical systems and prevent potentially serious crew injuries, particularly for electrical systems with high and medium voltage and equipment with uninsulated and exposed components,” the report said. “Electrical equipment should be installed, serviced, and maintained by qualified personnel familiar with the construction and operation of the equipment and the hazards involved.”

MARITIME

29 November 2022: Gran Canaria, Spain

Three stowaways were found sitting on the rudder of a ship as it concluded an 11-day voyage from Nigeria, according to Spanish Coast Guard authorities. A photo shared by the coastguard shows the three men sitting on the rudder at the stern of the oil tanker, their feet dangling several feet above the water. The men were taken to hospital at the tanker’s destination in Gran Canaria and treated for dehydration. It’s unknown if they spent the entire journey perched on the rudder or were stowing away in other areas of the ship. The ship originated in Lagos, Nigeria, 2700 miles away.

MARITIME

5 December 2022: Seaports in Algeria, Cyprus, France, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia

Two terrorist suspects wanted internationally under Red Notices have been arrested during an international maritime border operation coordinated by INTERPOL. Another eight investigative leads linked to terrorism were generated during Operation Neptune IV (1 July – 3 September) which targeted terrorist suspects and other criminals involved in serious organized crime travelling via maritime routes between North Africa and Southern Europe. The intelligence-led operation was supported by an INTERPOL team on the ground, and also targeted criminal networks involved in the drugs trade, firearms trafficking, human trafficking and people smuggling. Officials at seaports and airports in eight countries – Algeria, Cyprus, France, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia – carried out more than 2.6 million checks across INTERPOL’s databases for stolen and lost travel documents, nominal data and stolen vehicles via its I-24/7 secure global police communications network. These checks generated 140 hits, resulting in 14 additional arrests following seizures worth USD 3.6 million, including: 33 kg of cocaine, some 39,400 ecstasy pills, 133 kg of cannabis, and ten stolen cars. Ten firearms were also seized.

MARITIME

13 October 2022: The Caribbean Sea

A joint firearms operation between INTERPOL and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) has led to the seizure of some 350 weapons, 3,300 rounds of ammunition and record drug hauls across the Caribbean. Operation Trigger VII (24 – 30 September) saw officers from 19 countries coordinate controls at airports, seaports, land border and inland hotspots, acting on intelligence pointing to organized crime groups and individuals involved in firearms trafficking. They also searched warehouses, inspected packages and carried out targeted checks at firearms dealerships, shooting ranges and private security companies. Police made a total of 510 arrests during the week-long operation, including the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice wanted for murder. Trigger VII actions also led to the seizure of 10.1 tonnes of cocaine and 2.5 tonnes of cannabis, highlighting the convergence of trafficking routes and the use of firearms used to control the illegal drug trade.

MARITIME

25 October 2022: The East River, New York

A software flaw combined with the captain’s failure to use back-up controls led to the grounding of a passenger ferry last year in New York City, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a review of the accident in October. The high-speed passenger ferry Commodore, owned and operated by Seastreak, was transiting northbound on the East River on June 5, 2021, when the catamaran lost primary steering and speed control to both of its port hull water jets and then grounded. One minor injury was reported among the seven crewmembers and 107 passengers on board. The grounding resulted in $2.5 million in damages to the vessel. The ferry, providing commuter service between Manhattan and New Jersey, was operating its second trip of the day to the East 35th Street NYC Ferry Terminal from the Sandy Hook Ferry Landing in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. After passing under the Brooklyn Bridge, an alarm alerted indicating a control failure for the port water jets. The captain unsuccessfully attempted to reconnect the port jets several times via the primary control system. The captain first attempted to slow the vessel, then he attempted to go full astern, but only the engines and water jets in the starboard hull responded. This resulted in the ferry turning to starboard and slowing. It crossed to the east side of the river and entered the relatively narrow opening to Bushwick Inlet. Less than two minutes after the alarm, the vessel grounded. The port hull was breached after contact with submerged pilings on the north shoreline of the Bushwick Inlet and seawater quickly entered the port engine room. NTSB investigators found that the captain never tried to engage the back-up control, which could have been used to operate the vessel following the loss of primary control. NTSB investigators found that more effective company training procedures for loss of propulsion or steering control would have included recognizing a control failure and then responding by using the back-up control or other alternatives. Following the grounding, a service engineer for the manufacturer of the primary control system determined the software system was generating an unprecedented number of error messages, which caused the SD card for the display screen controlling the port water jets and engines to fail. This failure resulted in the loss of the display monitor and the loss of primary propulsion and steering control for the water jets and main engines in the port hull. A month after the grounding, the manufacturer issued a service letter to its customers mandating a software update that would correct the issue that caused the problem on the Commodore.

MARITIME

14 September 2022: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

U. S. Coast Guard and federal, state, local agencies and industry organizations from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands conducted a functional area maritime security exercise Wednesday, 14 September, throughout the Captain of the Port Zone area of responsibility. The exercise was part of the nationwide Area Maritime Security Training Exercise Program. Agencies focused on their capacity to alert, mobilize and activate personnel, facilities, and resources for an emergency response.