10 July 2017

Deaths of Vietnamese Sailors Serve as Tragic Reminder to Ship Operators to Review Security Measures  

Philippine Militants Demonstrate Ruthless Brutality with Decapitation of Innocents

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Shipping News Feature PHILIPPINES – Though much attention over the last few years has been paid to the threat that Somali pirates have presented to shipping around the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea, recent developments have swung attention to the dangers of falling into the hands of Islamist extremists operating around the Philippine coast. Last week the decapitated bodies of two Vietnamese sailors, Hoang Trung Thong and Hoang Va Hai, were discovered along a road on the island of Basilan, a strong hold for the terror group Abu Sayyaf, an affiliate of ISIS.

The two men had been captured by the militants in November 2016 off the bulk carrier MV Royal 16 and held for ransom and the double murder is a reminder that those who fall into the hands of such criminals are literally living minute to minute and, although kidnapping for ransom in Somalia had become practically a regulated business, with established methods of communications and payment between kidnappers and businesses/governments, this situation is not so clear cut in other parts of the world. Similarly, security measures and best practices that have been developed for particular areas and situations may not be the best advised course of action for crews under attack in other regions.

All shipping lines and owners are advised to examine their regulations and crew training for piracy and hijacking and make sure these are relevant in the threat zones in which their ships are operating. Of course, effective policing and maritime security forces are the only proper method of dealing with piracy and maritime theft and kidnapping. The controversial Filipino President, Rodrigo Duterte, has come up with his own answer. After condemning the murder at a press conference he said:

“I will eat your liver if you want me to. Give me salt and vinegar and I will eat it in front of you. I eat everything. I am not picky. I eat even what cannot be swallowed.”

We have reported previously of rising piracy levels in the region and it remains to be seen whether the threat of cannibalism by the Head of State is an effective deterrent to the extremists. Until then, ship owners should look to the safety of their crews.

Photo: Despite looking like the camouflage chapter of the Gay Pride movement, Abu Sayyif have proven as despicable in their actions as other ISIS related organisations.

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