USG Confirms Maritime Terrorism Threat

The US Maritime Administration (MARAD) has issued Advisory 2010-10 that confirms the validity of the claim of responsibility by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB) for the suicide attack on the tanker M Star in the Strait of Hormuz on July 28th. The Advisory further warns that AAB “remains active and can conduct further attacks on vessels in areas in the Strait of Hormuz, Southern Arabian Gulf, and Western Gulf of Oman.” The explosion of the suicide boat adjacent to the M Star injured one crew member and caused some damage to the tanker, but did not result in an oil spill or halt vessel traffic through the vital waterway. The AAB, which have been linked to al Qaeda, had previously claimed responsibility for bombings in three Egyptian Red Sea resort towns in 2004-2005 and a rocket attack on US Navy warships visiting the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba in 2005. The effect of this Advisory is to extend the waters subject to the terrorism warning in the now-cancelled Advisory 2010-08, which was issued in response to the M Star attack, from just the Strait of Hormuz to also include portions of the Arabian Gulf (aka the Persian Gulf) and the Gulf of Oman. The guidance in the new Advisory largely tracks that in its predecessor—increased vigilance and reporting of suspicious activity or (potentially) hostile action. Whereas the earlier Advisory had indicated that US vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz were required to comply with the US Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Directive 104-6, Advisory 2010-10 merely states that vessels transiting high risk waters designated in the Directive must comply with it, thereby leaving open the question as to whether all three water areas covered by the Advisory are designated High Risk Waters. (If you need to know, apply to your local Captain of the Port for access to the MARSEC Directive, which is a Sensitive Security Information document.) The only other significant change to the guidance is that the new Advisory notes that US vessels transiting High Risk Waters “should have their protective measures implemented prior to entering High Risk Waters,” in addition to conducting pre-voyage risk assessments and incorporating appropriate protective measures into their Vessel Security Plans. In addition to cancelling Advisory 2010-08, the new Advisory cancels Advisory 2010-04. The latter announced the resumption of normal operations by the Haitian Port Authority after a period after the devastating earthquake in that country during which Naval Control of Shipping procedures had been applied. NOTE: This post may be copied, distributed, and displayed and derivative works may be based on it, provided it is attributed to Maritime Transportation Security News and Views by John C. W. Bennett,

By Professional Mariner Staff