The U.S. Maritime Administration has issued a new advisory (2019-007) warning of violence due to regional conflict and piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Indian Ocean areas.
The advisory warns that:
Conflict in Yemen continues to pose potential risk to U.S. flagged commercial vessels transiting the southern Red Sea, Bab al Mandeb Strait and Gulf of Aden despite the current cease-fire between the Houthis and the Saudi-led Coalition in the vicinity of Al Hudaydah, Yemen. Since 2016, this conflict has threatened coalition navy and logistics vessels. In May 2018, a missile or rocket damaged a Turkish-flagged bulk cargo vessel while at anchor in the Red Sea awaiting entry into As-Salif, Yemen. Potential attacks continue to pose a direct or collateral risk to U.S. flagged commercial vessels operating in the region.
Additionally, piracy continues to pose a threat in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and Gulf of Oman. Specific case details are available at the Office of Naval Intelligence’s “Worldwide Threat to Shipping” and “Piracy Analysis and Warnings” website at https://go.usa.gov/xUa5p.
Guidance: With regard to the conflict in Yemen, U.S. flagged commercial vessels are advised to avoid entering or loitering near Yemen’s Red Sea ports. Vessels at anchor, operating in restricted maneuvering environments, or proceeding at slow speeds should be especially vigilant. U.S. flagged commercial vessels transiting the conflict area should conduct a pre-voyage risk assessment and incorporate appropriate protective measures into their vessel security plans. Threats may come from a variety of different sources including, but not limited to, missiles, projectiles, mines, small arms, or waterborne improvised explosive devices.
Vessels in the conflict area should report hostile activities immediately and contact coalition naval forces on VHF Channel 16. U.S. flagged commercial vessels should also contact the U.S. Fifth Fleet Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) detachment via the Fifth Fleet Battle Watch Captain at phone: +011 973 1785 3879 or email: [email protected] prior to entering the conflict area.
Suspicious activities and incidents are also required to be reported by U.S. flagged commercial vessels to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at phone: 1-800-424-8802 per 33 CFR Part 101.305.
Vessels operating in this region are also advised to establish contact with the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO). UKMTO advisories, warnings, and contact info are available at www.ukmto.org. Additional U.S. Coast Guard port specific requirements may be found in Port Security Advisory 1-18 at: https://go.usa.gov/xUa57.
With regard to piracy, the newly released Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Security in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea (BMP5), and Maritime Global Security website at: www.maritimeglobalsecurity.org (which contains BMP5) provide excellent security recommendations and should be consulted prior to operating in the above listed geographic areas.
U.S. flagged commercial vessels operating within High Risk Waters (HRW), as defined in U.S. Coast Guard MARSEC Directive 104-6, are required to comply with its requirements due to the risk of piracy, kidnapping, hijacking, and armed robbery in the HRW. Vessels are further advised to:
- Navigate at least 200 nautical miles from the Somali coast to the extent practicable
- Follow the guidance in Best Management Practices 5, BMP5 www.maritimeglobalsecurity.org; and
- Comply with their Coast Guard approved Vessel Security Plan annex on counter piracy
Mariners operating near this area are also advised to consult Department of State Travel Advisories at: https://go.usa.gov/xUa5F. Transit by yachts and privately owned sailing vessels through the region is also extremely hazardous and may result in capture. The U.S. Coast Guard advises against all operation of yacht and pleasure craft in these areas. American citizens abroad should inform the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of their plans to transit the area and/or update their information via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at: https://go.usa.gov/xEYEE. Yachting guidance can be found at: http:www.mschoa.org/on-shore/home.
Contact Information: For maritime industry questions about this advisory, contact the Global Maritime Operational Threat Response Coordination Center at: [email protected]