CMF: Guidance on Maritime Security Transit Corridor

The following information from the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) relates to transits through the Gulf of Aden, Bab Al Mandeb (BaM), Southern Red Sea, and associated waters.  It does not replace any previous guidance.

Recent attacks against merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Bab Al Mandeb have highlighted the risks associated with transiting these waters.  The multiple types of risks and the broad expanse of ocean on which these attacks can occur dictate that Naval Forces must be used in the most efficient manner possible.  To assist in this, CMF is establishing a Maritime Security Transit Corridor (MSTC).

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Cooperation is the key to defeating pirates – here’s why


Pirates are notoriously hard to capture. Their actions occur on the shifting, vast expanse of the open oceans. Perpetrators cannot simply be “arrested” by a conventional police force and, even if they are caught, it’s a challenge to prosecute an offender who by their very nature transcends borders.

There is no single answer to the problem, particularly given pirates’ different guises and motivations. Yet a study of historical anti-piracy operations, both ancient and recent, does reveal one commonality in the repression of piracy: international cooperation.

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Guidance On Transits Through The Bab El Mandeb and Associated Waters

UKMTO operating from Dubai, has issued an advisory following information from the UK government relating to ship transits through the Bab El Mandeb (BeM) and associated waters.  This UKMTO Notice 001 August /2017 replaces previous guidance UKMTO Notice 001 July 2017 (which refers to CMF advice dated 16 July 2017) and UKMTO Notice 002 July 2017.

Recent attacks against merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb have highlighted the risks associated with transiting these waters. Daylight attacks by small boats were conducted against two tankers in the southern approaches to the BeM. The method of these attacks has seen two or more skiffs approaching at high speed. In each case, one or more have fired small arms and Rocket Propelled Grenades and carried explosives. In both attacks, the skiffs carrying explosives detonated at a distance from the target vessel, but the presumed intent was to detonate the explosives against the hull.   The assessment of the attacks against merchant vessels in the southern approaches to the BeM indicates that due to the low levels of sophistication, the exposure to the threat is greater in daylight hours. However, an attack during the hours of darkness cannot be excluded.

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New security warning for Gulf of Aden region

New advice from Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) issued yesterday says that recent attacks against merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Bab-el-Mandeb have highlighted there are still risks associated with transits through these waters.

Daylight attacks by small boats using small arms, rocket propelled grenades, and Waterborne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIED) have been conducted against the tankers MV Galicia Spirit in October 2016 and MT Muskie in May 2017.

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Analysis: Piracy in the Indian Ocean

by ​Neil Thompson

Following the hijacking of the Aris 13 in March, the first merchant vessel to be taken by pirates operating from Somalia since May 2012, at least half a dozen further instances of attacks have been reported in its coastal waters.

The question remains as to what lies behind the sudden spike in attacks on shipping passing through the Gulf of Aden and if this portends a return to large scale Somali piracy and robbery at sea in the Indian Ocean.

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Houthi militia ‘planting mines in Bab Al-Mandab Strait’

ADEN: The Houthi militia and forces loyal to Yemen’s ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh have begun a new wave of mining in the areas around the port of Hodeidah, in an attempt to cause damage to vessels passing through the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, it has been claimed.

According to Yemeni media sources, the Houthi militia and Saleh loyalists, with the direct assistance of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, are planting Iranian-made camouflage mines in the area around the Port of Hodeidah.

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Nearly 2 Tons of Narcotics Seized Under CTF-150 Operation Southern Surge

In the last two months, the French-UK led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 has conducted ‘Operation Southern Surge’ seizing more than 13/4 tons of narcotics from traffickers in the Indian Ocean dealing a significant blow to the funding of terrorism. The seizures included 1250 kg of heroin and 455 kg of hashish.

Narcotics trafficking, particularly heroin, has long been associated with funding terrorism. It is estimated by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that opiate-derived monies account for more than 10 per cent of Afghanistan’s GDP, and 50 per cent of the Taliban’s funding. Approximately 95 per cent of European heroin originates in Afghanistan.

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Tanker reportedly sank in Gulf of Aden


June 26: Product tanker RAMA 2 reportedly issued distress signal and sank on June 26 in Gulf of Aden, in vicinity 13 50N 055 53E, some 130 nm northeast of easternmost Socotra tip.

Vessel said to develop a list prior to sinking, while en route to Al Hamriya, UAE from Mogadishu. SAR launched and coordinated by UK CG, with deployment of nearby merchant ships.

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Explosion heard from ship off the coast of Somalia

A huge explosion was heard from a ship off the coast of Somalia’s Puntland region late on Monday and flame was seen rising from what was possibly a foreign naval vessel, an official told Reuters.

“We heard (a) huge explosion and flame rising from the ship. I believe that the ship is foreign,” Ali Shire, mayor of Puntland’s port town of Alula, a pirate haven, told Reuters on Tuesday. He said he believed the ship was likely a naval vessel because two foreign navy ships had helped rescue the crew.

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HMAS Arunta Intercepts 260kg of heroin

HMAS Arunta has completed a third significant narcotics interdiction after seizing 260kg of heroin in the Indian Ocean, while operating in support of the French-UK led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).

The Royal Australian Navy frigate intercepted the dhow after the ship’s embarked Seahawk helicopter detected it acting suspiciously on 7 June during a planned surface search.

The following morning, the frigate’s boarding team climbed on board the suspect vessel and began conducting their search. The smugglers go to extraordinary lengths to hide the valuable cargo, meaning searches can take several days on larger dhows. For example, in a recent seizure in support of CTF 150, the contraband was hidden below 2,500 kg of ice. Boarding teams use specialised search techniques and equipment to discover the illicit cargo and expedite the process.

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