Yemen Conflict Pushes Maritime Industry to Tighten Security

Illustration; Image Courtesy: US Navy

Shipowners and operators are facing new threats, including sea mines and water-borne improvised explosive devices (WBIEDs), arising from the conflict in Yemen.

In response to these threats in the southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb, BIMCO, International Chamber of Shipping and INTERTANKO have published interim guidance on maritime security in the area.

“We’ve been advised that these threats are real, and therefore decided to provide guidance for ships operating in the area. We have seen two incidents in January, and we want to make sure owners and operators are aware and advise their crews accordingly,” Angus Frew, BIMCO Secretary General and CEO, said.

Company security officers and ship Masters need to be informed of the threats, as the patterns and mitigating measures differ from the more familiar regional threat of piracy.

The guidance stresses the importance of using the Maritime Security Transit Corridor, registration with MSCHOA and reporting to UKMTO, as well as reviewing and updating risk assessments and plans to include these new threats. The guidance also includes advice specific to identified threat types, including WBIEDs and complements the guidance provided in BMP 4.

“This guidance supports the activity of military forces in the region, and adds a further layer to the awareness and preparedness of ships in the region,” Peter Hinchliffe, ICS Secretary General, said.

“This will become a valuable planning tool and should provide some reassurance to our industry,” Dr Phillip Belcher, INTERTANKO’s Marine Director, added.

The war between the Houthi armed movement, allied with Iran, and a US-backed military coalition headed by Saudi Arabia has caused great damage in Yemen. Two of the country’s Red Sea ports, Hodeidah and Saleef, which are under the control of Houthi rebels, were closed in November after a rebel-fired ballistic missile.

In late December 2017, it was decided that the two ports would be open for one month for humanitarian and commercial goods. On January 22, the Saudi-led Coalition informed that the ports will remain open to aid and commercial shipping for another 30 days.

At the same time, the Coalition has pledged USD 1.5 billion in new humanitarian aid for the country.

Other Yemeni ports that are open and operational include Aden, Mukalla, Nishtun and Ash Shihr Oil Terminal. According to GAC, the facilities that remain closed are Balhaf LNG Terminal, Mokha, Ras Isa Marine Terminal and Ras Isa Petroleum Products Reception Facility.

Data provided earlier by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) shows that more than 22 million people in Yemen need humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million who are in acute need – an increase of more than one million people since March 2017.

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