Practical Boat Owner: The captain and first officer of an ocean going tug boat have been found guilty of drug trafficking following the biggest ever UK seizure of class A drugs.
The vessel had been intercepted by the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Somerset and Border Force cutter HMC Valiant in the North Sea approximately 100 miles off the coast of Aberdeenshire.
They were acting on intelligence supplied by the NCA, working in co-operation with the French customs investigation service DNRED and the UK’s National Maritime Information Centre.
NCA officers were deployed on HMS Somerset as the MV Hamal was boarded and escorted into the Port of Aberdeen.
After the vessel arrived in port on 24 April the cutter crew and specialist Border Force deep rummage teams commenced a search, alongside NCA and Scottish Police Authority forensic teams.
Ballast tanks on the Hamal were pumped out so that search crews could gain access. As they began to drill through a metal panel inside one of the tanks, a white powder was seen on the drill bit. It tested positive for cocaine.
The panel was removed, revealing bales of cocaine concealed inside a neighbouring compartment. The way the bales were stacked inside showed that there must be another access point in the vessel.
Investigators began a detailed search for the main access point and in crew quarters above the compartment, underneath a medical cabinet, they found an area of floor that had been cemented over. They chipped through the cement and found a sealed metal hatch, which provided access to the tank containing the cocaine.
Border Force officers wearing specialist breathing equipment entered the tank and over the next two days, 27 and 28 April, 128 bales of cocaine were removed, each weighing approximately 25 kilos. The total weight of the cocaine taken off the MV Hamal was in excess of 3.2 tonnes.
A mobile crane removed the recovered bales from the vessel and Police Scotland then took the drugs under armed guard to a secure location.
Forensic tests revealed the cocaine had a purity of between 58 and 74 per cent. It would likely have been cut three times over before being sold, meaning it had the potential to create almost ten tonnes of adulterated street level purity cocaine, valued at around £512 million.
NCA officers detained the nine Turkish crew members and they were formally questioned in Aberdeen, while investigators scoured the ship for clues as to the vessel’s route.
A deck log and engine log books stated that the MV Hamal had spent time in West Africa after leaving Turkey. However, analysis of the ship’s navigation system showed that, even though the AIS navigational beacon was turned off, GPS had continued to monitor movements on a laptop computer.
This proved that the ship had sailed from Tenerife on 8 March 2015 and travelled across the Atlantic, arriving in Georgetown, Guyana, on 21 March. It left five days later and, significantly, paused its journey for around 12 to 15 hours around two days after leaving port. This is where investigators believe the drugs were loaded on.
Following the seizure NCA international liaison officers worked with the Guyanese authorities to trace the location of the vessel whilst it was in Guyana as well as obtaining details regarding individuals associated with it. Mobile phone evidence placed a number of the crew in the Georgetown area of Guyana, contradicting the log books.
Officers also recovered a coded satellite phone email message from the vessel, containing a series of numbers. When checked against a key found in a notebook on board this corresponded with co-ordinates for a location in the North Sea, north of the Dutch/German border, where investigators believe the drugs would have been offloaded.
Following an 12 week trial at the High Court in Glasgow, ship captain Mumin Sahin and first mate Emin Ozmen were found guilty of two counts of drug trafficking. The charges against four crew members were found not proven. Three others had been acquitted earlier in the proceedings.
They will be sentenced on 12 August.
Practical Boat Owner: The UK and Ireland are holding an event to find potential technology candidates to complete the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and counter threats to maritime safety.
The event will be hosted at the Trinity House in London on 2 March 2016 by the Knowledge Transfer Network and the Royal Institute of Navigation and will explore the future maritime navigation of mix of technologies in 2030 and beyond to identify potential complements to Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).
Its purpose is to present ways to protect marine environment, supporting economic growth and maintain safety of navigation in increasingly confined and congested shipping areas, and also to explore technologies that could complement GNSS for robust cost-effective navigation of ships in the future.
Navigable sea space is set to shrink, with growing obstacles like marine conservation areas and wind farms. Therefore GNSS is likely to remain the primary source of navigation data, as it can be prone to interference and is not infallible.
It is clear that there is a need for complementary technologies higher than ever to provide robust and reliable navigation data, combined with a rise in GNSS jamming incidents.
Motorboat & Yachting: Superyachts built in North America and the Caribbean will have comply with a new emissions limit on NOx emissions from next year.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is cracking down on superyacht NOx emissions, with a new limit due to be imposed next year.
The new Tier III limit on NOx emissions is 74% lower than the outgoing Tier II and will apply to all vessels built in the USA and Caribbean from January 1 2016.
This is likely to hit the superyacht industry hardest, as the limit only applies to recreational vessels that measure more than 24m in length, weigh more than 500 tonnes, and have engines with a total power output in excess of 130KW (excluding emergency back-ups).
And with the widespread trend towards driving down gross tonnage, the IMO has stipulated that the weight limit will be removed from the regulations in 2021.
Peter van der Heijden, managing director at NPS Diesel, told Yachting Pages: “Many technologies already comply with PM (soot) and NOx regulations, and the marine industry has fallen behind, it is the last in the row.”
He added that such restrictions are likely to be applied to the Mediterranean within the next twelve months, which could drive up costs for the big yards.
According to Mr van der Heijden, potential ways to comply with the latest NOx emissions include using advanced no-soot diesel filters that have been widespread in the automotive industry for many years now.
Yachting Boating World: Zizoo promises to ‘revolutionise sailing holidays.’ Zizoo, the boat booking website, launched in the UK market on the 5th October, as it unveiled a new long haul sailing collection including Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Thailand locations.
The site promises to ‘revolutionise sailing holidays’ by making the booking process entirely online, offering easy access to over 6000 boat rentals in 30 countries worldwide.
Destinations include popular European countries such as Croatia, Spain, Greece, France, Italy and Turkey, as well Sweden, Norway, Channel Islands and even some inland locations. The company has also launched a new long haul collection.
Vessels are available with or without crew for flexible durations (from one day) and include luxury catamarans, vintage gulets and sailboats, as well as motor and speedboats. All relevant insurances are included within the hire fee so all clients need to cover themselves are the mooring fees, which often vary depending on their chosen sailing itinerary.
More unusual options include a vintage James Bond-esque speed boat to whizz around the canals of Venice, or a fun BBQ ‘Donut’ motorboat on Berlin’s Tegel Lake. A skipper can be added to any booking from between £100-£125 per day, or experienced sailors can crew the vessels themselves.
Zizoo began as an idea from Anna Banicevic, who learnt to sail off the West Coast of Ireland. Looking to rent a yacht for a group sailing holiday a few years ago, she soon realised that the boat rental industry was totally ‘undigitalised’.
“We believe that the boat rental industry is ready to go to the next level, following in the footsteps of other travel sectors such as car rental, hotels and flights. For Zizoo we see our growth not only coming from leading the offline market into the digital era, but also attracting a younger market who are looking for an alternative to a land based holiday,” she added.
Yachting Boating World: Uber’s boat service across the Bosphorus in Turkey is slowly beginning to gain momentum, after its launch in June this year.
Just a year after Uber began to service Turkey with its taxi service, the company announced UberBOAT, a service to transport people from Europe to Asia.
UberBOAT, which has teamed with Turkish boat company Navette, allows people to order the boats in the same way as they order Uber cars.
Through a smartphone app, users locate the nearest boat and when the captain calls to confirm availability, the boat arrives and the journey begins.
Uber launched the scheme after recognising that Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, experiences severely heavy traffic and can make it difficult for people to get around.
“It is an alternative way to escape the city traffic and ease congestion on the roads, particularly on the two bridges that link Europe and Asia,” Austin Kim, Uber’s operation manager for Turkey, told AFP.
“By boat, you cross (the Bosphorus Strait) in five minutes, whereas by car, it takes about an hour and a half,” he said.
Fares start at 50 Turkish liras ($16 / 15 euros) but can be split between passengers. Each boat can hold up 10 people at a time.
“We have more clients at weekends. I would say that we carry around 50-60 people per week,” said the captain of one of the boats.
UberBOAT is struggling to gain more customers due to fierce competition between transport services ferrying across the Bosphorus Strait. Public ferries between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul can cost as little as 2.15 lira ($0.71) per ride.
Alternatively, there is the option of a water cab, which charges 46 Turkish lira (approximately $16 dollars) and additional fares for each nautical mile.
The Turkish government is currently working on a project to build “Kanal Istanbul,” another strait to bypass the Bosphorus to ease the boat traffic in the narrow waterway.
Uber remains a controversial company and is facing numerous challenges from other transport services across the world, including TFL, who have published proposed new rules for apps including Uber. The proposals include a mandatory five minute wait time, even if a car is available just around the corner. This means users will be unable to see the nearest cars when they open the app.
As Uber’s reach continues to grow around the world, the company is increasingly experimenting with different types of transportation, including UberBOAT.
Pratical Boat Owner: The wife of an imprisoned drug smuggler and three others have been jailed for their involvement in a plot to smuggle more than a tonne of cocaine into the UK on a yacht.
The conspiracy centred on the yacht Makayabella, which was intercepted by the Irish Navy of the south-west coast of Ireland in September 2014.
Cocaine found on board would have had a likely street value in excess of £160million, had it been cut and sold in the UK.
Leeds Crown Court heard how Dawne Powell, 56, played a crucial role in the purchase and insuring of the vessel, paying for flights for the crew and a satellite phone.
The yacht, skippered by her father-in-law John Powell, was tracked as it crossed the Atlantic from the Caribbean in an operation involving the National Crime Agency (NCA), French, Irish and Venezuelan authorities, the UK’s National Maritime Information Centre and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (MAOC-N) in Lisbon.
The boat was due to transfer its illicit cargo to a powerboat, the Sea Breeze, skippered by Stephen Powell, Dawne Powell’s husband, and crewed by Philip McElhone, 30, and David Webster, 44.
However, the plan hit the rocks when the Sea Breeze ran out of fuel on the way to the rendezvous. It was rescued by the RNLI and towed to Rosslare in Ireland before returning to Pwllheli, north Wales.
Mrs Powell was sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of money laundering following a week-long trial. She was cleared of conspiring to import class A drugs.
Co-defendant James Hill, 31, who had assisted her husband, was sentenced to six years after being found guilty of conspiring to import class A drugs.
McElhone and Webster both pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and were given sentences of 11 years each.
David Norris, NCA branch commander, said: ‘We have successfully dismantled an organised crime group intent on flooding the north of England with illegal drugs.
‘This was a colossal seizure, and I’ve no doubt that had it not been stopped the cocaine on board the Makayabella would have ended up on our streets.
‘Dawne Powell has been found guilty of laundering money which was used in the purchase of the vessel. This enabled the conspiracy which Hill, McElhone and Webster played important roles in.
‘This investigation has relied upon international co-operation to bring it to a successful conclusion, and we will continue to work with our partners at home and abroad to disrupt and bring to justice those involved in drug trafficking.’
The convictions mean eight people are now behind bars in connection with the Makayabella smuggling attempt.
Stephen Powell was jailed for 16 years in December 2014 for orchestrating the smuggling attempt. He initially disappeared, but following publicity about the seizure and an NCA raid on his home in Guiseley he handed himself in.
The three men who were on the boat when it was stopped, Stephen Powell’s father John, from Silesden, West Yorkshire, Benjamin Mellor from Bradford and Thomas Britteon from Grimsby were handed sentences of between 10 and eight years after being arrested by An Garda Síochána and prosecuted by the Irish authorities.
Specialist Crown Prosecutor Tarryn McCaffrey said: ‘When the Makayabella was seized by the authorities, it contained over a tonne of cocaine being transported from Venezuela. Dawne Powell and James Hill may not have sailed either of the boats used to import the drugs, but the scheme could not have been run without their involvement.
‘The street value of these drugs would have been £164 million had this massive shipment reached the intended destination, it is vital this type of organised crime continues to be disrupted and offenders brought to justice.’
Practical Boat Owner: The British Marine Federation has relaunched itself as a ‘British Marine’ brand to better promote businesses and British excellence in the UK and overseas markets.
The organisation has pledged to invest heavily in a campaign to encourage consumers to look for the new British Marine logo and buy from British Marine members.
The new look is the result of a year-long re-brand exercise.
Fiona Pankhurst, President of British Marine said: “This is a seriously exciting time for British Marine. The new brand will strongly connect our members with Britain’s reputation for quality, excellent design and innovation.’
National Boat Shows (NBS) has also re-branded to become British Marine Boat Shows.
Motorboat & Yachting: Saracens has signed a two-year deal with Garmin, which will see gWind sensors fitted to the goalposts at Allianz Park.
Marine technology firm Garmin has signed a two-year deal with the North London team that will see wind sensors fitted to the goalposts at Saracens’ home stadium, Allianz Park.
The gWind system (pictured right) will wirelessly relay information to the kicking coach Dan Vickers’ Garmin Quatix GPS watch, allowing him to advise the kicker on the prevailing windspeed and direction.
Garmin claims that this technology will be used during training and before a game to capture the most accurate information. Previously, rugby union teams had used flags to determine the wind direction, but Vickers claims that this is a huge step forward:
“At Saracens we’re really keen to trial and pioneer new technology. Historically, we’ve used flags, but we wanted to explore a more technical solution to this, so we turned to Garmin.
“We are now able to determine the speed and direction of the wind much more effectively during training, which in turn enables us to advise our kickers.”
Saracen’s next home match is against Exeter Chiefs on Sunday (May 10). The team currently sits in third place in the Aviva Premiership with three games left to play this season.
Motorboat & Yachting: The new Raymarine VHF units include a compact model and an option for a built-in AIS receiver at Fort Lauderdale Internationale Boat Show.
American marine electronics giant Raymarine has unveiled its latest range of products at the 2014 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. New to the VHF radios range, the Ray70 (pictured) is being launched as the company’s flagship marine radio, with a built-in AIS receiver that should make installation simpler.
The new Ray60 and the compact Ray50 models have been updated with noise-cancelling technology, higher quality speakers and a new design to match the latest Raymarine displays.
Also confirmed at the Fort Lauderdale show is the news that Raymarine’s Lighthouse operating system will be getting an update before the end of the year. Raymarine Lighthouse II Version 12 will allow skippers to view four videos feeds at once and use any one of them to take snapshots or record video.
The update will be free to download from the Raymarine website, and the new VHF radios are priced as follows: Ray70 (£496+VAT), Ray 60 (£285+VAT), Ray 50 (£200+VAT). Additional microphones will be made available for £137 each (exc VAT).
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Motorboat & Yachting: The Monaco-based studio insists that this ambitious superyacht design is based on real world technologies.
It’s very easy to dismiss most superyacht concepts as an irrelevance or the product of a feverish imagination, after all 99% of them never make it beyond the drawing board, let alone out onto the water. However, when speaking to Emanuele Gallo Perozzi at Pastrovich Design, it’s clear that there is much more to the company’s latest concept, the X-R-Evolution, than just wishful thinking.
Emanuele told MBY that all of the elements of this radical design (pictured above) are based on real-world technologies and that clients have already registered their interested in creating this vessel.
Designed to satisfy a superyacht owner’s yearning for privacy, the X-R-Evolution features detachable pods or ‘Bungalows’, which can be deployed at various points across a bay, allowing kids, guests and owners to relax in their own separate space. ssentially these are the ultimate in customisable tenders, with Emanuele suggesting that private gardens and floating swimming pools are other possible uses.
Stefano Pastrovich and his team have looked into various offshore technologies to create optimum stability for these craft, such as that used by Dutch company Ampelmann. They have also worked with manufacturers in the kite surfing sector, who build stand-alone inflatable launch platforms, to ensure that this concept is viable.
The result is a carbon fibre hull that can be scaled from 50 metres up to a maximum of 90 metres without the need for a draft in excess of 2.5-metres. This allows owners to moor the mothership close to remote island bays in the Caribbean; the perfect location for making the most out of the freedom that these Bungalows offer.
Emanuele claims that the pods could either be completely detachable or remain linked by tethers, which can harness wave power to generate sustainable energy for use on board the main craft.
It all sounds terribly ambitious, but considering that Pastrovich Studio’s previous credits include work with Bremer Vulkan and the Eric Schmidt Ocean Institute, these claims become all the more credible.