BIMCO issued an industry update concerning the tanker that while conducting its STS operations in international waters in the Persian Gulf it reported a limpet mine attached to the hull of the vessel.
To remind Dryad Global reported that the Liberian flagged MT Pola had identified the presence of a suspicious object attached to the vessel hull while conducting StS 6nm South Al Bakr Terminal offshore Iraq. The suspicious object was later revealed that it was a mine.
It is noted that
There is no indication where or when the device was attached to the hull or who did this. It is understood Officials from Iraq safely removed the device.
Following this incident, BIMCO reports that the shipping industry is in contact with Flag States, Regional Stakeholders, UKMTO, Combined Maritime Forces, International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), European Maritime Awareness in The Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH), and industry associations.
In light of this dangerous incident, BIMCO outlines the risk mitigation measures that could be followed. Accordingly:
“Industry organizations recommend companies review BMP5 and consider sending the following guidance to vessels operating in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea”:
- Undertake a new ship- and voyage-specific threat risk assessment before entering any region where there has been an incident, or the threat has changed.
- After the risk assessment, review the Ship’s Security Plan.
- Review section 2 of BMP5, which outlines non-piracy threats.
- Maintain a full and vigilant bridge watch; Note: at night, slow small boats with no wake are difficult to spot on radar.
- Maintain a strict communications watch and establish communication with all vessels coming close. Do not allow small boats to approach or to come alongside. Use a searchlight for identification at night.
- Ensure strict boarding controls are in place.
- Only lower accommodation gangways or ladders when necessary.
- Rig outboard lighting where possible provided they do not interfere with keeping a safe lookout, particularly over the stern and rig/use searchlights if available.
- Report any suspicious activity or objects immediately to both the port and UKMTO +442392222060.
- Monitor relevant VHF and other communication channels.
- Check all fire-fighting equipment is available for immediate use. Make sure the emergency fire pump is available if any maintenance is being undertaken.
- Keep the Automatic Information System (AIS) on. There is no need to complete the field stating the last or next port of call.
Moreover, concerning the visual check of the hull, BIMCO recommends to
- Undertake a visual search from the deck, all around the vessel to check for anything attached to the hull of the vessel. Particular attention should be paid to the hull at the waterline.
- Conduct regular rounds and search the upper deck.
- If a vessel detects anything unusual attached to the hull, then the Master should contact the UKMTO and Flag State immediately. All crew should be evacuated from the immediate area
and mustered in a safe place. No attempt should be made to remove it.
- Vessel should follow the advice of the military authorities.
Concluding, operators could keep in mind the following additional measures in order to be alerted to suspicious activity whilst at anchor include:
- Rotate the propeller continuously or at short, irregular intervals.
- Operate bow and stern thrusters at zero (0) thrust at irregular intervals.
- Turn the rudder frequently.
- Switch the echo sounder to transmit counter/combat swimmer/diver threat.