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Shipping Industry Issues Revised Guidance for Navigating Southern Red Sea

In response to escalating security concerns in the Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, a coalition of leading shipping associations has issued updated security guidance. The move comes following a series of attacks on international shipping by the Houthis operating from Yemen.

BIMCO, CLIA, ICS, IMCA, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO, and OCIMF jointly released the revised guidance to address the evolving threats faced by vessels navigating these strategic waters. The Houthis have purportedly targeted ships with alleged affiliations to Israel, the US, and the UK, although the accuracy of these claims remains disputed.

Ships transiting through the area are urged to exercise heightened vigilance due to the potential for collateral damage from indiscriminate strikes. The guidance emphasizes the importance of maintaining continuous lookout, irrespective of the timing of the voyage.

A comprehensive threat and risk assessment tailored to each vessel and voyage is deemed essential, with additional advice from the ship’s flag state strongly recommended prior to passage through the region. Moreover, ships bound for Israeli ports are advised to restrict information access amid concerns of potential exploitation by Houthi forces.

Recent attacks have targeted vessels regardless of their AIS status, highlighting the complex security environment. While switching off AIS may make a ship less vulnerable to detection, it is unlikely to deter an attack. Ship owners and operators are advised to regularly assess risks and adjust routes accordingly, considering the implications of disabling tracking systems.

In light of the heightened threat level, the guidance discourages compliance with Houthi instructions to divert to their controlled ports. Instead, it offers guidance on identifying suitable waiting areas should transit through the Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden need to be delayed.

While vessel hardening measures such as those outlined in BMP5 are recommended, caution is advised regarding the use of armed guards. The guidance underscores the importance of prudent management and rules of engagement to mitigate the risk of escalation.

For further details and the complete guidance document, interested parties can download the resource from the provided link.

The shipping industry remains vigilant in the face of evolving security challenges, prioritizing the safety of crews and vessels navigating through these strategic waters.

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