The US Maritime Administration (MARAD) has issued a new advisory for vessels operating in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.

It says vessels should keep their AIS (automatic identification systems) transmitting at all times and be ready to answer VHF calls from coalition naval forces.

In goes on, in a section specifically for US-flagged vessels, to say ships should register simultaneously with the UK Maritime Trade Office (UKMTO) and US Fifth Fleet Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) Watch before they enter the area.

They should send both agencies, via a single email, details of when they will enter and when they will leave the Strait of Hormuz Traffic Separation Scheme and give an outline of their navigation plans for operating in the Strait and in the Persian Gulf.

The advisory is current from August 8.

Tension has been growing between Iran and the West with both sides accusing each other of aggressive behaviour.

The United States blames Iran for a series of attacks against commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and in the wider Persian Gulf.

Iran denies involvement in some of the incidents and, in cases were vessels have been seized or detained, claims it has been acting lawfully.

The latest MARAD advisory talks of a serious threat to commercial vessels from heightened military activity.

It says there have been a least two cases of vessels reporting GPS interference. It claims there have also been reports of spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be US or coalition warships.

This advisory warns against vessels shutting off their AIS saying its risks complicating response efforts should they be involved in an incident.

If Iranian forces hail a US-flagged ship, or board or attempt to board, the advisory says the US Fifth Fleet Battle Watch should be informed immediately.

Ships should take extreme care not to enter sensitive Iranian waters.

Ships should maintain a high state of awareness and be alert to local and regional tensions that could put them at risk.

Contact details for US Fifth Fleet Battle Watch: + 973-1785-3879; email: CUSNC.BWC@ME.NAVY.MIL.

Source: Gray Page


Pakistan passes command of CTF 150 to the United Kingdom after a short ceremony in Bahrain

On 8th August, a UK led joint staff of Royal Navy and French Marine Nationale assumed command of the maritime security organisation Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 from the Pakistan Navy.

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Pakistan Navy hand over command of CTF 150 to the Royal Navy and French Marine Nationale.

Through maritime security operations, regional engagements and capacity building activities, CTF 150 works to deter and deny terrorist organisations any benefits from employing the high seas for smuggling illegal narcotics, which represents a common threat to the security and prosperity of the region. Member countries that contributed to CTF 150 success during the Pakistan-led rotation included Australia, Canada, France, Pakistan, the UK and the US, who all worked together in direct support in pursuit of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) goals.

CMF is a multinational naval partnership which works with regional partners to ensure maritime security and stability. This partnership consists of three task forces which deal with a range of threats from non-state actors such as piracy and the smuggling of illicit materials.

During the ceremony at the CMF headquarters in Bahrain, command of CTF 150 was passed from Commodore Alveer Ahmed Noor of the Pakistan Navy to Commodore Edward Ahlgren, OBE, Royal Navy. The event was presided over by Commander CMF Vice Admiral Jim Malloy of the United States Navy.

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Vice Admiral Malloy with Commodore Noor, outging CCTF 150 and Commodore Ahlgren, incoming CCTF 150.

In his speech, Commodore Noor said: “Pakistan’s commitment to the UN resolutions is well established. The eleventh Command of CTF 150 by Pakistan Navy certainly demonstrates our continued commitments in support of CMF efforts for ensuring maritime security in the region. During our Command tenure, CTF 150 effectively contributed to CMF mission by seizing 25 175kg of narcotics leading to denial of approximately USD $19.5M to terrorist organisations. Furthermore, CTF 150 units remained vigilant and poised to respond to any emergency call for assistance to the maritime community.”

Over the last 4 months, units under CTF 150’s command have carried out 15 successful boarding operations despite the unfavorable weather during the month of May, June and July.  CTF 150 has been committed to building maritime counter-terrorism capability in regional navies and to promoting regional security and stability.

Vice Admiral Malloy praised the Pakistan Navy on their successful command of CTF 150 by saying: “The professionalism of the Pakistan led CTF 150 has been exemplary. This is the eleventh time CTF 150 has been commanded by Pakistan and is unsurpassed by any other nation. The Pakistan Navy has shown that hard work and commitment to the maritime security of the region can be achieved in an all too changing world. I would like to personally thank Commodore Alveer Ahmed Noor for his leadership and guidance and look forward to serving with you again in the future”

Commodore Ahlgren is deeply honoured to be taking over responsibility for CTF 150 and maritime security in this region and recognises the challenges.

He said: “Delivering maritime security is becoming increasingly complicated. Threats are evolving rapidly, and the adversary is not always evident. In a world where constant change is the only certainty, security in the maritime domain cannot be achieved by one organisation with limited assets – it’s a team effort from all of us.  We, as the incoming CTF 150 team, look forward to being part of this great venture and making new friends along the way.”

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Dignatories from Bahrain, Pakistan and the United Kingdom cut the ceremonial cake after the event.

This is the tenth time the UK has commanded CTF 150, with the last occasion being May to August 2018, when, similarly to this command, it was a joint Royal Navy – French Marine National venture. France also has a long and successful track record in the lead of CTF 150, commanding the task force alone nine times since 2003.

Commodore Ahlgren explained the complexity of the region:

“Combined Task Force 150’s Area of Operation includes some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and spans over 3.2 million square miles. This area is a vital artery of world trade from the Far East to Europe and the United States and covers three of the world’s strategic ‘choke points’. Within the seas of the region all manner of activity is undertaken: be it piracy, drug smuggling, arms running, people trafficking, migration or legitimate activity like trade, fishing or leisure.  In all of that, it is about finding the bad guy amongst a sea of people.”

Vice Admiral Malloy concluded; “Today we welcome Commodore Edward Ahlgren, who will lead CTF 150 as a combined UK, French team. Today marks the tenth time the United Kingdom has dedicated a leader and superb staff to command CTF 150 – a number surpassed only by Pakistan! I have full confidence that commodore Ahlgren will continue the legacy of great CTF 150 leaders that precede him. I am honored and grateful to serve with you and will work to ensure your success”.


Asian Piracy: Chief Engineer Assaulted

ReCAAP ISC reports that three piracy incidents were reported in Asia between August 6 and 12. One of the incidents occurred on board a chemical tanker while underway waiting for pilot at approximately five nautical miles north of Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, Indonesia. Six perpetrators armed with knives boarded the tanker and assaulted the Chief Engineer. The alarm was raised and the perpetrators escaped empty-handed.

The other two incidents involved tug boats towing barges while underway in the Singapore Strait. Both incidents occurred south of Tanjung Piai, Johor, Malaysia, and involved perpetrators who boarded the barges from small boats. They escaped after stealing some scrap metal from the barges.

Two incidents were reported during the previous week. One involved a tug boat in Indonesia and the other a general cargo ship in Vietnam. Both incidents occurred while the ships were at berth.

As the risk of the abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah is high as demonstrated by the abduction of nine crew on June 18, the ReCAAP ISC urges ship masters and crew to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area. Earlier this year, the ReCAAP ISC produced a new publicationGuidance on Abduction of Crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and Waters off Eastern Sabah.

Source: The Maritime Executive


Initial Report: Vessel Hijacked Near Lome, Togo

On 12st August 19, at 0130 UTC an MV was hijacked in the vicinity of Lome, close to Ghanaian border. Investigations are ongoing and this report will be updated as further information becomes available. Vessels are advised to exercise extreme caution in this area.

Source: MDAT-GoG, Maritime Security Review


Turkish seafarers kidnapped in Nigeria released

The 10 seafarers returned home Sunday after being kidnapped 15 July.

Ten Turkish seafarers kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea and taken to Nigeria last month have been released and have returned to their homeland, local media reports say.

The seafarers, taken hostage aboard the Kadioglu Maritime-connected 8,900-dwt Paksoy-1 (built 1997) 15 July were released Friday and arrived back in Turkey Sunday.

Pirates seize 10 seafarers from cargoship

Contact made with Turkish crew’s captors

Hakan Cakar, one of the victims, told media that they were held in “the woods” in “tough” conditions.

“There were snakes, scorpions, bugs. It was a swamp. We don’t know what their goals were. They didn’t tell us anything,” he said. “Initially, they were tough on us, then they behaved well. There was no physical violence against us.”

The ship was 230km off Brass, Nigeria when it was attacked en route to the Ivory Coast from Douala, Cameroon.

There were 18 crew members aboard the ship when it was attacked. The Ghanaian navy escorted the ship into port after the incident. Kadioglu Maritme made contact with the seafarers 10 days later.

The Gulf of Guinea is the most dangerous area for piracy in the world, according to statistics from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

Of the 75 seafarers taken hostage on board or kidnapped for ranson in 2019, 62 were in the gulf.

“Armed pirates in these high-risk waters kidnapped 27 crewmembers in the first half of 2019, and 25 in the same period in 2018,” the IMB’s second quarter report read.

“Two chemical tankers were hijacked, as well as a tug that was then used in another attack. Of the nine vessels fired upon worldwide, eight were off the coast of Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer. These attacks took place on average 65 nautical miles off the coast — meaning they are classified as acts of piracy.”

Source: TradeWinds


Suspicious Approach Near Lome, Togo

July 25: At approx. 02:15 UTC whilst at anchorage, a duty officer aboard an unspecified vessel noticed the approach of a fishing vessel with six persons on board and ropes inside the craft. He raised the alarm and the fishing vessel – on hearing it – moved away from the MV. Vessel and crew were reported safe.

Source: Maritime Security Review


Boarding and Attempted Robbery Aboard Bulk Carrier at Belawan Anchorage, Indonesia

July 30: At approx. 23:20 UTC two unauthorized persons boarded an anchored bulk carrier at Belawan anchorage, Indonesia. Alarm raised and crew mustered. Seeing the crew alertness, the two persons escaped empty-handed. Incident reported to the Port Control.

Source:  Maritime Security Review


Boarding and Attempted Robbery Results in One CM Injured Aboard Chemical Tanker Near Tanjung Priok (Jakarta), Indonesia

July 30: At approx. 22:00 UTC six unauthorized persons armed with knives boarded a chemical tanker waiting for a pilot approx. 4nm north of Tanjung Priok, Indonesia. They injured the Chief Engineer on routine rounds. Alarm raised and crew mustered. Seeing the crew alertness, the robbers escaped empty-handed. Incident reported to the VTS. The severity of the injury was not reported.

Source: Maritime Security Review


Houthi Rebels Kill Dozens in Attack on Yemen Port City

Yemen’s Houthi rebels killed at least 36 people in a missile-and-drone attack Thursday on a government-controlled southern port city, the latest blow to already faltering United Nations-backed efforts to end a four-year war.

The rebels said they targeted a military parade in Aden, the seat of the Saudi-backed government. The attack also left dozens injured, Yemen’s Houthi Ministry said.

The strike on a military parade was the worst violence to hit Aden since southern separatists forces, including Security Belt units, clashed with the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2017 in a power struggle.

Analysts say the Houthis may be testing any weaknesses in the coalition following the UAE military drawdown in the south and western coast announced in June, which appears to have also emboldened Islamist militant groups in Yemen who carried out separate deadly attacks on southern forces last week.

Source: Maritime Security Review


Temporary Agreement for Strait of Hormuz issued by Warlike Operations Area Committee

Further to the club’s web alerts on 17 June and 22 July and news article on 19 July, the Warlike Operations Area Committee (WOAC) has temporarily designated the Strait of Hormuz as a high-risk area from 2 August. This follows the UK Government advice to UK-flagged ships to give it notice of any intention to pass through the Strait of Hormuz and to avoid the area unless accompanied by British naval support.

The WOAC, comprised of the trade unions Nautilus International and RMT, and the UK Chamber of Shipping, decided to apply the designation at an extraordinary meeting held on 29 July.

The temporary agreement applies to the operators of any UK and Red Ensign Group flagged ship due to transit the area and where those operators fail to take account of relevant guidance from industry bodies such as OCIMF, INTERTANKO, BIMCO and ICS​, and fail to take the advice of the flag state. The agreement can be found in the attachment on the right.

Members should be aware that the WOAC agreement gives seafarers the right to refuse to work onboard ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz. Crew can choose not to join an unaccompanied ship about to proceed to the High-Risk Area, or request to leave the ship at a preceding port.

Seafarers who choose to continue working on ships transiting the area must receive double basic pay from 2 August, in recognition of the higher risks associated with transiting and operating in the zone. Double basic pay would apply to each day the ship is in the specified zone. The payments are in addition to all other remuneration earned.

The agreement will cover the sea area as per the UK Government definition of the territorial limits of the Strait of Hormuz:

On the West: A line joining Ra’s-e Dastakan (26°33’N – 55°17’E) in Iran, southward to Jaztal Hamra lighthouse (25°44’N – 55°48’E), in the United Arab Emirates (the common limit with the Persian Gulf).

On the East: A line joining Ra’s Līmah (25°57’N – 56°28’E), in Oman, eastward to Ra’s al Kūh (25°48’N – 57°18’E), in Iran (the common limit with the Arabian Sea).

The designation will be reviewed on September 2 or earlier if advice from the UK Government changes. The Government advice of 22 July 2019 can be found here.

The Standard Club is always on hand to assist. If members have any questions in relation to this publication or the previous publications mentioned above, they should not hesitate to contact the authors or their usual club contact.​

Strait of Hormuz agreement [PDF]


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