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Threats to commercial vessels

  • calendar

    14 August 2019

  • location

    Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea

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The U.S. Department of Transport’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) has issued an advisory about heightened military activity and increased political tensions in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea which “continue to pose serious threats to commercial vessels”.

The MSCI Advisory 2019-012 effective 08/07/2019 to 02/03/2020 states:

“Associated with these threats is a potential for miscalculation or misidentification that could lead to aggressive actions. Vessels operating in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman may also encounter GPS interference, bridge-to-bridge communications spoofing, and/or other communications jamming with little to no warning.

The international community, including the United States, continues maritime security operations within this region. Vessels operating in this area are advised to review security measures, ensure AIS is transmitting at all times, and monitor VHF Channel 16.

a) To afford best protection in the region, U.S. flagged commercial vessels are encouraged to:

- Simultaneously register with both the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Office (UKMTO) and U.S. Fifth Fleet Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) Watch when entering the Indian Ocean Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) by e-mailing them the Initial Report from Annex D of Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Safety in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea (BMP5).

- Provide transit plans for the Strait of Hormuz (SoH) and Persian Gulf (PG) to UKMTO and U.S. Fifth Fleet NCAGS via a single e-mail, including the time of entering/exiting the SoH Traffic Separation Scheme, an outline of the navigation plan for operating in the SoH and PG, and speed restrictions or other constraints.

- In the event of any incident or suspicious activity, call UKMTO or the U.S. Fifth Fleet Battle Watch and activate the Ship Security Alert System immediately.

- Answer all VHF calls from coalition navies.

- Utilize other reports included in Annex D of BMP5 as necessary, including both UKMTO and Fifth Fleet NCAGS on each of these reports.

 

b) All vessels should be aware that U.S. and other coalition naval forces may conduct maritime awareness calls, queries, and approaches to ensure the safety of vessels transiting the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, and Arabian Sea. If a U.S. flag commercial vessel suspects it is being hailed from a source falsely claiming to be a U.S. or coalition naval vessel, the U.S. Fifth Fleet Battle Watch should be immediately informed.

c) If hailed by Iranian forces, U.S. flag commercial vessels should provide vessel name, flag state, and affirm that they are proceeding in accordance with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention. The master should immediately inform the U.S. Fifth Fleet Battle Watch.

d) If Iranian forces seek to board a U.S. flag commercial vessel navigating these waters, the ship’s Master should, if the safety of the ship and crew would not be compromised, decline permission to board, noting that the vessel is proceeding in accordance with international law, and immediately inform the U.S. Fifth Fleet Battle Watch.

e) If Iranian forces board a U.S. flagged commercial vessel, the vessel should immediately contact the U.S. Fifth Fleet Battle Watch. The crew should not forcibly resist the boarding party. Refraining from forcible resistance does not imply consent or agreement to that boarding.

f) The Maritime Global Security website at https://www.maritimeglobalsecurity.org/ offers industry issued best practices, including BMP5, and guidance to mariners by geographic region and provides contact and subscription information for regional maritime security reporting centers.

g) Vessels operating in this area are advised to establish contact with both UKMTO and the U.S. Fifth Fleet NCAGS Watch, and to include both on all update or incident report emails, as detailed above. By including both as addressees on each email, awareness will be enhanced without creating an additional reporting burden.

 

Contact Information:

a) Fifth Fleet Battle Watch: + 973-1785-3879, and email details to: CUSNC.BWC@ME.NAVY.MIL.

b) Fifth Fleet NCAGS: CUSNC.NCAGS_BW@ME.NAVY.MIL or +973-3904-9583 or +973-1785-0084.

c) UKMTO: watchkeepers@ukmto.org or +44 (0) 2392 222060. UKMTO advisories and warnings are available at http://www.ukmto.org/.

d) U.S. Coast Guard: Per 33 CFR 101.305, all suspicious activities, breaches of security, and transportation security incident events must also be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at +1-800-424-8802.

e) For maritime industry questions about this advisory, contact GMCC@uscg.mil.  Supplemental information may also be found on the MARAD Office of Maritime Security website at: https://go.usa.gov/xUKsb

For more information about U.S. Maritime Alerts and Advisories, including subscription details, please visit http://www.marad.dot.gov/MSCI.”

 

For information about GAC operations in the Middle East, contact the respective GAC office. Details may be found in the GAC WORLDWIDE section of www.gac.com

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