Two oil tankers, the Panamanian flagged 'Kokuka Courageous' and the Marshall Islands-flagged 'Front Altair', were hit in two suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday morning, leaving the one vessel ablaze and both adrift.
Recommended precautions for ships in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman:
- Implement security measures equivalent to Ship Security Level 2.
- Tankers in ballast condition should purge cargo tanks of hydrocarbons prior to entering the region to reduce the risk of explosion.
- Undertake a new ship and voyage-specific threat assessment before entering any region where there has been an incident or if the threat has changed.
- After performing the risk assessment, review the Ship Security Plan and amend if necessary.
- Review section 2 of Best Management Practice 5th Edition (BMP5), which outlines threats.
- Maintain a full and vigilant bridge watch.
- Maintain a strict watch and establish communication with all vessels coming close.
- 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.
- 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) and Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) systems on. There is no need to complete the field stating the last or next port of call.
Visual check of the hull:
- 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 of the upper deck.
- If a vessel detects anything unusual attached to the hull, then it should contact the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) Dubai or Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Bahrain and the flag State immediately. All crew should be evacuated from the immediate area and mustered in a safe place.
- Vessels should follow the advice of the military authorities.
Additional measures Operators may wish to take if 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.
- Turn the rudder frequently.
- Switch the echo sounder to transmit counter/combat swimmer/diver threat.
The attacks were the second in a month near the Strait of Hormuz, a major strategic waterway for world oil supplies. Shortly after the incident, oil prices surged by 4%.
Shipping industry condemned the attacks, with the IMO Secretary General, the International Chamber of Shipping and INTERTANKO noting that this is an intolerable situation threatening the lives of seafarers, the environment and the world economy.
Find out the Ship Security Advisory No. 07-19 herebelow: