Cigarette demands cause Suez incidents

MARCH 31, 2014 — Vessels transiting the Suez Canal may find that passage is easier with the assistance of a few packs of Camels.

Some Suez Canal employees haven't gotten the message about the dangers of smoking ... and are getting nasty when their demands for cigarettes are not met.

The U.S. Navy Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO), Manama, Bahrain, has issued a Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) on the topic.

Here's the text:

Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 04-14 28 MAR2014

Vessels Transiting the Suez Canal

A recent breach of Security (BOS) onboard a U.S. vessel transiting the Suez Canal resulted in
port employee allegedly setting fire to a mop rack onboard the vessel in retaliation for not receiving cigarettes from the crew. In January, a separate incident where two port employees illegally gained access to a U.S. commercial vessel after completing mooring operation and demanded cigarettes. When their demands were not met, they threaten harm to the crew and vessel. In both cases, the perpetrators identified themselves as Suez Canal Port Authority Employees. Coast Guard investigators have learned that through demands for cigarettes from port employees is quite common, threats made to crewmembers and damage to vessels is new and increasing as vessel choose not to comply with these demands. These incidents were presented to Egyptian authorities for action and met resistance from authorities due to a lack of timeliness.

The intent of this ACTIVITIES EUROPE advisory is to provide further guidance to the maritime industry in the event they are face with a similar situation.

In addition to the reporting requirements in Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 101.305 which requires any suspicious activity, BOS or Transportation Security Incident (TSI) be reported, without delay, to the NRC, we recommend that the following notifications and tasks be completed to assist in prosecuting these perpetrators:

1. Log all port employees in the gangway log with full name and ID number if possible (legibly);
2. Take a picture of each port employee before allowing them onboard and their vessel (if applicable);
3. Immediately notify the Suez Canal Port Authority through the pilot and via radio;
4. Notify your local shipping agency and request assistance;
5. Notify U.S.C.G. Activities Europe Duty Officer at: +31 (0) 61-297-9335;
6. Notify the Egypt DHS Attaché at: 011-202-2797-2126, 011-202-251-4383, or 011-202-2792-3432.

Timely reporting will facilitate a thorough joint investigation between countries and work towards preventing future incidents.

For additional information or clarification regarding this MSIB, please send your question or comments to acteurinvestigations@uscg.mil or call +31 (0) 61-049-0770.

CDR Joe Herrador USCG
Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO) OIC
Manama, Bahrain
PSC 851 Box 330
FPO AE 09834-0004
Commercial: 00973-1785-3927/3925
Cell: 973-3940-8732