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Bab el-Mandeb Strait/SRS Concerns

Increase in possible militant activity off Yemen 
July 7th 2017
Increase in possible militant activity off Yemen
The situation in the waters off Yemen, particularly the Bab el-Mandeb Strait (BAM) and Southern Red Sea (SRS) continues to be a cause for concern.

Despite additional Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) patrols in the region, we have seen a steady series of reports from the region in June, with 11 incidents reported by agencies such as UKMTO, 10 of which are believed to have featured possible militants from Yemen.

It is likely that approaches by Houthi-Saleh rebels against merchant ships will continue and, given previous events where suicide boats and RPGs have been fired on ships, CSOs are advised to follow BMP4 procedures at all times.

The incidents in June saw up to seven skiffs with large numbers of armed men on board approach merchant ships. On at least one occasion, jerry cans were waved, suggesting the approaching party had run out of fuel. It is not known what their intentions may be, but Masters should treat all such approaches with extreme care and contact UKMTO as soon as possible to report it.

Of further concern is news received at the end of the month that Houthi rebels may be planting sea mines in the BAM. A July news article suggests these may now be in place around Hodeidah Port. Previously, mines were discovered off Mokha and caused significant damage and loss of life to a Yemen Coast Guard vessel which struck one.

CSOA members are advised to update risk assessments accordingly and ensure their vessels register with UKMTO/MSCHOA prior to entering the Indian Ocean High Risk Area.