In the August edition of ‘The SENTINEL Watch’ providing the merchant shipping industry with an update on maritime security incidents within the Middle East Region, the International Maritime Security Construct informs that the threat in the Southern Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb, Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman continues to be Low-Moderate.
- Southern Red Sea/BAM threat is LOW-MODERATE.
- Persian Gulf/Gulf of Oman threat is LOW-MODERATE.
- MV CSAV TYNDALL fire and minor damage.
- Houthi militia WBIED threat in Al-Hudaydah.
- MT MERCER STREET attack.
The threat in the Southern Red Sea and Bab-el-Mandeb continues to be LOW-MODERATE for IMSC flagged vessels. Areas closest to the Yemeni coastline, as well as potential Houthi misidentification or miscalculation present the primary threats. Separately, the threat for IMSC flagged vessels in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman remains LOW-MODERATE.
On 3 July, various news outlets reported that the Liberian flagged container ship MV CSAV TYNDALL experienced a fire and minor damage. There were no casualties and the vessel continued on its voyage from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Jebel Ali, UAE. Investigations are ongoing.
Separately, on the same day, the Bahrain News Agency reported that the Houthi militia attempted 2 Waterborne Improvised Explosive Device attacks in Al-Hudaydah Governorate in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition eliminated the vessels while they were preparing an attack. The News Agency report emphasized Bahrain’s continued support to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to preserve the safety of shipping lanes.
Finally, on 29 July, UKMTO released an advisory indicating reports of a vessel being attacked approximately 152nm NE Duqm, Oman. According to US CENTRAL COMMAND, the aircraft carrier USS RONALD REAGAN and Guided Missile Destroyer USS MITSCHER responded to a distress call in the Arabian Sea. Tragically, 2 crew members were killed on the Liberian flagged product tanker MT MERCER STREET. The press release indicated that the MT MERCER STREET suffered an attack which was likely a drone strike. US Navy personnel boarded the tanker to ensure there was no further danger to the crew. Investigations are ongoing.
Warships and aircraft continue to provide overwatch to merchant vessels throughout the IMSC area of operation. Vessels transiting the area can expect to hear CTF SENTINEL conducting Maritime Awareness Calls (MAC) on a regular basis. Masters are encouraged to report incidents to CTF SENTINEL via UKMTO. Mariners are advised to follow the guidance in BMP 5 (as modified by national authorities) and review the guidance and responses contained within the IMSC Bridge Cards,
In addition to the guidance provided in BMP5, merchant shipping is encouraged to report the following to UKMTO as detailed in the IMSC Bridge Cards:
- Threatening or harassing conduct directed at a merchant vessel.
- Threatening or harassing language transmitted on VHF.
- Boarding or search of a vessel without a valid legal pretext.
- Unnecessary manoeuvring in unsafe proximity of a merchant vessel.
- Intentional close manoeuvring so as to restrict a vessel’s ability to manoeuvre without lawful justification.
- Aircraft (including drones) operating at an unsafe altitude or distance that results in a threat to a merchant vessel.
- Unprofessional or inappropriate queries; queries that include asking questions beyond flagged state, port of departure and port of arrival. Including questions relating to; whether warships or aircraft are operating in the area or asking unnecessarily probing questions about the crew or cargo.
- Sighting of suspicious floating objects (possible mine or waterborne improvised explosive device) in the area.
- On receiving a distress call from another Merchant Vessel that reports being harassed or attacked.