The Marshall Islands Issues Security Advisory to Yachts and Commercial Vessels
The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Maritime Administrator has issued a Ship Security Advisory (SSA) No. 01-24: “Threats to Commercial Shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and Red Sea Regions” to RMI-flagged vessels operating in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Bab-al-Mandeb, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Strait of Hormuz (SoH), and the Red Sea.
“Heightened military activity and geopolitical tensions in the regions continue to pose serious threats to commercial vessels. Vessels transiting these areas should maintain a heightened level of vigilance,” the Ship Security Advisory states.
The security advisory also applies to yachts, both commercial and private, with two caveats:
- Non-ISPS yachts should implement the ship security levels as advised for those that fall under the ISPS Code.
- If boarded, attacked, or witnessed a suspicious event, yachts with no voyage data recorder system are encouraged to preserve recordings from other vessel systems such as ECDIS or other electronic chart systems when available.
While “adversarial forces” maintain they’re targeting only vessels linked to Israel or trading in Israeli ports, recent incidences have shown otherwise, and RMI maintains that threats and the risk of collateral damage remain high for all merchant vessels operating in these areas.
“Regional and non-state actors” have harassed, interdicted, and attacked commercial shipping using coastal radar, naval vessels or patrol boats, repurposed commercial vessels, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). According to the SSA, they have demonstrated small boat operations, UAV or missile attacks, water-borne improved explosive devices, limpet mines used against ships near ports or underway, and mines placed in or near strategic waterways.
Commercial vessels transiting the areas mentioned above have been boarded and detained or seized by foreign military forces, and others have used both small boats or helicopters to force vessels into their territorial waters over the past few years.
Vessels in the area should also be aware that U.S. and coalition forces “may conduct maritime awareness calls, queries, and approaches to ensure the safety of vessels transiting the Arabian/Persian Gulf, SoH, Gulf of Oman, and Arabian Sea,” the security advisory states. Inform the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) if there is doubt about the legitimacy of these approaches. Vessels in this area are also advised to establish contact with UKMTO and the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) and to include both in any update or incident report emails.
The SSA also outlined what to do if approached by non-coalition forces, advising vessels to provide the “vessel name and flag state, and affirm that the vessel is proceeding in accordance with international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).” RMI also advises the ship’s master should decline non-coalition forces’ attempts to board the vessel or to have it change course. If boarded, however, they advise that the crew do not forcibly resist the boarding party. “Refraining from forcible resistance does not imply consent or agreement to that boarding,” the SSA states.
The SSA also outlines risk mitigation measures and incident reporting procedures for vessels in the area, so check out the security advisory for more information.
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