Republic of the Marshall Islands - Ship Security Advisory #07-19 - Tanker Attacks in the Gulf of Oma
To: Owners/Operators, Masters, Company Security Officers, Recognized Security Organizations
Subject: TANKER ATTACKS IN THE GULF OF OMAN Date: 25 June 2019 Operators of Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) flagged vessels transiting the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman are requested to circulate this Ship Security Advisory (SSA) to their ships by the most expeditious means possible. This SSA should be considered complimentary to RMI SSA #05-19.
In the early morning hours of 13 June 2019, two (2) tankers were attacked while underway navigating in a south-easterly direction in the Gulf of Oman. The FRONT ALTAIR (Marshall Islands) and the KOKUKA COURAGEOUS (Panama) both sustained severe damage from explosions on their hulls above the waterline causing crews of both vessels to abandon ship.
The crew of FRONT ALTAIR were rescued by the container ship HYUNDAI DUBAI (RMI) and subsequently taken ashore to Bandar-e-Jask by Iranian authorities. The crew from KOKUNA COURAGEOUS were reportedly rescued by United States (US) Naval forces.
The fire on the FRONT ALTAIR was successfully extinguished before nightfall and the vessel remains afloat.
Assessment and Analysis
Investigations are ongoing in both incidents. Details of the nature of the explosions have not been confirmed and no group has claimed responsibility.
These incidents occurred almost exactly one month after four vessels were attacked near United Arab Emirates territorial waters off Fujairah, UAE.
Risk Mitigation Measures
Tensions in the Strait of Hormuz region are extremely high.
Shipowners are advised to exercise extreme caution and highly recommend their vessels to take precautions as described below when operating in the area:
• Implement security measures equivalent to Ship Security Level 2.
• Review section 2 of Best Management Practice 5th Edition (BMP5), which outlines threats.
• Undertake a new ship and voyage-specific threat assessment before entering any region where there has been an incident or if the threat has changed.
• After performing the risk assessment, review the Ship Security Plan and amend if necessary.
• Ensure ISPS access control measures are strictly in place.
• Consider transiting at full speed whilst ensuring this is only done where it is commensurate with safe speed, safe navigation and maneuvering permits.
• Ensure watch officers save Voyage Data Recorder (VDR / SVDR) data in the event of an attack or suspicious event.
• Consider if a Day/Night transit is appropriate to the threat posed.
• Conduct Security Training/Exercises prior to entering areas of increased risk.
• Tankers in ballast condition should consider purging cargo tanks of hydrocarbons prior to entering the region to reduce the risk of explosion.
• Strictly observe any promulgated exclusion zones or guidance issued by coastal states.
• Consider implementing unmanned machinery spaces (UMS) through confined straits if navigationally safe to do so.
• Maintain a full and vigilant bridge watch. Place additional lookouts to the navigation team and bridge wings with a specific remit to maintain visual watch for small craft approaching.
• Ensure the lookouts are briefed on maintaining a clear watch astern and over the side.
• If a mine-related threat is announced during transit, move all crew to above the waterline.
• Maintain use of night vision binoculars and consider carrying more onboard.
• Maintain a strict communications watch and establish communication with all nearby vessels.
• Rig outboard lighting where possible, provided they do not interfere with keeping a safe lookout, particularly over the stern, and use searchlights if available.
• Monitor relevant VHF and other communication channels.
• Consider the use of extra unarmed lookouts in addition to any contracted security the vessel may have hired for HRA transits, (note the northern part of the Gulf of Oman is not part of the industry designated High Risk Area for piracy).
Ensure water tight integrity whilst underway or at anchorage.
• Check all fire-fighting equipment is available for immediate use. Make sure the emergency fire pump is available if any maintenance is being undertaken.
• Ensure Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) systems are switched on and functional.
Visual check of the hull:
• Undertake a visual search from the deck, all around the vessel to check for anything attached to the hull of the vessel. Particular attention should be paid to the hull at the waterline.
• Crew conducting visual checks should wear appropriate PPE, protective head gear, safety harness and life jackets at all times.
• If a vessel detects anything unusual attached to the hull, it should contact United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) Dubai or Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Bahrain and the flag State immediately (see Reporting section below). All crew should be evacuated from the immediate area and mustered in a safe place.
• Vessels should follow the advice of coalition military authorities / CMF.
Additional measures for consideration whilst at anchor include:
• Rotate the propeller continuously or at short, irregular intervals.
• Operate bow and stern thrusters at zero (0) thrust.
• Turn the rudder frequently. • Switch the echo sounder to transmit counter/combat swimmer/diver threat.
BMP5: Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Security in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.
OCIMF’s Ship Security: Hull Vulnerability Study is also a useful reference.
NATO ATP2: NCAGS’ Guide to Owners, Operators, Masters and Officers Edition A Version 1, Annex D to Chapter 4.
Commercial vessels operating in these areas are advised to report any incidents or suspicious activities to U.S. or Coalition Naval Vessels on VHF Channel 16. In addition:
• United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organization: UKMTO remains as the primary point of contact for merchant vessels and liaison with military forces within the region. UKMTO administers the Voluntary Reporting Scheme (VRS), and all merchant vessels are encouraged to send regular reports providing their position, speed and ETA to next port in accordance with Maritime Security Chart Q6099 and RMI Marine Notice 2-011-39. UKMTO email is firstname.lastname@example.org. UKMTO emergency numbers are +44 (0) 239 222 2060 and +971 50 552 2315.
• United States Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT) Naval Co-operation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS): RMI-flagged vessels, should include NCAGS (email@example.com) on all reporting NCAGS duty phone is +973 3904 9583 and office numbers are +973 1785 1023 / 1024 / 2983 / 0084.
• USNAVCENT Maritime Operations Center (NAVCENT MOC): Any vessel under attack or under threat of attack are encouraged to contact the NAVCENT MOC battle watch directly at +973 1785 3879 and fleet watch at +973 1785 4577.
• RMI-flagged vessels bound for the Strait of Hormuz in either direction are encouraged to contact the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet NCAGS Battle Watch at least two days prior to transit at: firstname.lastname@example.org or +973-3904-9583.
• All security incidents and suspicious activities must be reported by RMI-flagged commercial vessels to the RMI Maritime Administrator at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Supplemental information may also be found on the RMI Maritime Security web page.