INTERTANKO Security Bulletin - Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden
The Club has received the following update from industry association INTERTANKO on the situation in the Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
Since the previous update, attacks have continued, including the confirmed hijacking of a ship off Somalia. Since the start of the Red Sea crisis 18 attacks on 14 ships have taken place and eight ships have been struck. Additionally, three boardings have taken place resulting in two ships being hijacked. In total as of Wednesday 20 November 43 drones and missiles have been intercepted by coalition forces.
Operation Prosperity Guardian and CTF 153 – Update and recommendations
Operation Prosperity Guardian commenced its work on Tuesday 19 December under the umbrella of Combined Task Force 153 (CTF 153) of the Combined Military Force (CMF). CTF 153, a coalition of some 11 nations with the main forces being provided by the US, UK, and France, is tasked with providing security for ships as they pass through the Red Sea, with other nations providing support as needed. In a briefing to industry leaders on 20 December, it is clear that this force will be defensive in its operation and will not be leading strikes against the shore in Yemen. Alongside CTF 153, the Eisenhower battlegroup, centred around a US aircraft carrier, will operate in the Gulf of Aden and the Bataan battle group will operate in the Red Sea.
CTF 153 has advised that the only way the Houthis know a ship’s location for sure is through the ship’s AIS signal. Taking this into account, ships should consider the possibility of the increased targeting threat that exists with the AIS on against the increased risk of collision. Further, the Houthis operate mainly during the day and so consideration should also be given to transit the Bab al Mendab during the hours of darkness.
Rerouting Considerations – Insurance and commercial
Owners considering their obligation to proceed through a particular route will need to check their contracts for clauses equivalent to CONWARTIME 2013, under a time charterparty, or VOYWAR 2013, under a voyage charterparty. This would allow owners to refuse to proceed if, in the reasonable judgment of the Master/ owners, the vessel may be exposed to actual, threatened or reported war risks. It is recommended that owners consult their insurers and seek legal advice before invoking such clauses.
It has been widely reported that many ships have diverted and will not use the Red Sea route and instead will route around Africa. The INTERTANKO Secretariat has had detailed discussions with many charterers and commercial operators and from this Members should consider discussing the option of rerouting via the Cape of Good Hope with their charterers. Some charterers have stated that they will look favourably on any such requests and agree that this is preferable to the risks of transiting the southern Red Sea region and Gulf of Aden.
Multiple Members have reported that insurers are offering discounts on war risk premiums if armed guards are embarked for Red Sea transits. It should be noted that if such guards are embarked, then the risk of escalation of the conflict cannot be ruled out particularly in the event of a fire fight during a helicopter-borne assault.
The Houthis have stated that they will continue their attacks against ships with links to Israel. In many of the attacks, the links appear to be tenuous at best and in some cases, links cannot be ascertained. Therefore, it is not known what methods the Houthis are using to target ships and so it cannot be said with any certainty that any particular ship is a target or not.
The bulk carrier Ruen was confirmed to be hijacked and is being closely monitored by Indian and Spanish warships. It is unclear whether the Somalis are acting independently of the Houthis or in collaboration. In any event, the threat of hijacking from skiffs operating out of Somalia cannot be ruled out in the Gulf of Aden.
Please contact either Phil Belcher, Marine Director (email@example.com) or Selena Challacombe, Legal Counsel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Please refer to the Interim industry transit advice here: Interim industry transit advice for Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (ukpandi.com)