Security advisory following attacks on ships off Fujairah

12 May incidents off Fujairah

On 12 May between 06:30 LT and 08:00 LT four vessel were attacked while anchored between 6 and 10 NM off shore Fujairah:

  • The Saudi flagged tanker ‘Al Marzoqah’ was hit by an explosion which resulted in a large (4 x 4 meters) hole in the water line.
  • The Norwegian flagged tanker ‘Andrea Victory’ was hit by an explosion causing a large hole (4 x 6 meters) in the stern section of the vessel.
  • The Saudi flagged tanker ‘Amjad’ was also severely damaged leading to an approximately 20 meter wide hole in the waterline.
  • The UAE flagged tanker ‘A Michel’ was also attacked and apparently received damage in the engine room section.

While the attacks led to substantial damage to assets, fortunately no significant damage to people or environment appear to have occurred.

The attacks were allegedly carried out using explosives, but the means of deployment of these explosives remain unknown. Potential means of delivery include combat swimmers using mini submarines, remotely operated underwater vehicles or even guided underwater drones.

Threat assessment

The incidents are still being investigated, and so far, there is no clear evidence pointing to who was behind the attacks. However, the circumstances surrounding the incident seem to point to Iran:

  • US and Iran relations have steadily deteriorated over the past 12 months.
  • US has increased its military presence in the region, it has declared the Iranian Republican Guard an international terrorist organisation and has tightened sanctions against Iran.
  • Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if Iran was prevented in using the Strait.
  • Iran is backing the Houthi rebels who are fighting in Yemen against a coalition of the internationally recognised government together with a Saudi-led coalition of ten Arab countries supported by the United States.

Against this backdrop and in view of the geographical proximity of Fujairah to Iran, and when assessing the capability, intent and opportunity of Iran, it seems likely that Iran has played a role in the 12 May attacks. However, other scenarios cannot be ruled out at this point.

Implications for insurance

The Lloyd’s Market Association’s Joint War Committee has published a revised set of listed areas, and these now include the territorial waters of Oman, United Arab Emirates and the Persian or Arabian Gulf and adjacent waters including the Gulf of Oman west of Longitude 58°E. Until further, it seems prudent that members take notice of the listed areas and take certain precautions when operating inside them. In that vein, especially ships with ties to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen are likely to be at risk, although attacks on other ships cannot be excluded.

Advice to members

Members operating ships in the areas with increased threat should take following precautions:

  • Continue to follow the registration and reporting procedures described in chart Q6099 and BMP 5.
  • Report security incidents including suspicious behaviour to UK MTO, MSCHOA and CMF.
  • Increase vigilance of ship’s crew e.g. by stepping up on lookouts and security patrols, keep VHF radio watch and maintain dialogue with port authorities.
  • When operating in the listed areas, implement security measures equivalent to ISPS Security Level 2.
  • Consider improving the watertight integrity of the hull by closing selected doors and hatches.
  • Consider the wide range of additional self-protection measures as described in ATP-02.1 Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping, which can be found on the joint industry security website

Update to this guidance

The facts surrounding the 12 May incidents are still firming up, and this guidance will be updated if needed.

 

Jakob Paaske Larsen
in Copenhagen, DK

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