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Friday, May 17, 2019 

Oil industry bodies Intertanko and Oil Companies International Maritime Forum (OCIMF) have issued a statement regarding recent incidents against tankers at anchor off the Port of Fujairah, UAE, on Sunday 12 May.

While damage was caused to vessels, Intertanko and OCIMF are relieved that no seafarers were injured or pollution detected, and appreciate the support that the UAE and Fujairah Port Authority gave to those affected.

According to OCIMF, four tankers were struck in Fujairah. The attack appears to have been well-planned and coordinated. It appears that each vessel was attacked by a sub-surface explosive device placed by either a remotely-operated vessel or diver. Both types of delivery method are more likely to happen when vessels are near stationary or in a very restricted waterway.

While Waterborne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIED) have been used against vessels in the Southern Red Sea, the use of a sub-surface drone would require a higher level of sophistication. OCIMF understands military assets are deployed off Fujairah for surveillance, monitoring and response.

Intertanko and OCIMF are in contact with the UAE and Saudi Flag Administrations, the Combined Maritime Forces and other industry associations. The two organisations recommend that companies review BMP5 and consider sending the following guidance to vessels:

  • Undertake a new ship- and voyage-specific threat risk assessment before entering any region where there has been an incident or the threat has changed.
  • After the risk assessment, review the Ship’s Security Plan.
  • Review section 2 of BMP5, which outlines threats.
  • Maintain a full and vigilant bridge watch for vessels at anchor.
  • Implement deck patrols.
  • Implement a waterborne security patrol.
  • Maintain a strict communications watch and establish communication with all vessels coming close.
  • Ensure strict boarding controls are in place.
  • Only lower accommodation gangways or ladders when necessary.
  • Rig outboard lighting where possible, particularly over the stern and rig/use searchlights if available.
  • Report any suspicious activity immediately to both the port and UKMTO +442392222060.
  • Monitor relevant VHF and other communication channels.
  • Check all fire-fighting equipment is available for immediate use. Make sure the emergency fire pump is available if any maintenance is being undertaken.
  • Keep the Automatic Information System (AIS) on. There is no need to complete the field stating the last or next port of call.
Additional measures operators may wish to take if alerted to suspicious activity 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.

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