2017-003-Piracy-Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, and Gulf of Oman

  1. Reference: U.S. Maritime Alert Message 2017-003A.
  2. Issue: On March 13, 2017, pirates hijacked an oil tanker near the north coast of Somalia, marking the first successful piracy attack off the coast of Somalia since May 2012. Several additional vessels have also recently been boarded or hijacked within the High Risk Area (HRA) defined in IMO Circular 3606 at http://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/Security/PiracyArmedRobbery/Guidance/Documents/Circular%20Letter%20No.3606.pdf.
  3. Guidance: Within a 30-day period spanning March-April 2017, there have been four reported hijackings and one boarding off the Horn of Africa. Specific case details are available at the Office of Naval Intelligence’s “Worldwide Threat to Shipping” and “Piracy Analysis and Warnings” website at www.oni.navy.mil/intelligence-community/piracy. U.S. flag commercial vessels operating within the HRA are required to comply with U.S. Coast Guard MARSEC Directive 104-6 due to high risk of piracy, kidnapping, hijacking, and armed robbery while transiting this region. Vessels are further advised to remain at least 200 nautical miles from the Somali coast to the extent practicable, follow the guidance in Best Management Practices 4 (www.mschoa.org/docs/public-documents/bmp4-low-res_sept_5_2011.pdf?sfvrsn=0), and comply with their Coast Guard approved Vessel Security Plan annex on counter piracy actions. Vessels operating in this region are also advised to establish contact with the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Office (UKMTO). UKMTO advisories, warnings, and contact info are available at www.ukmto.org.
  4. Although there is currently no specific information indicating yachts or sailing vessels are being directly targeted, transit by yachts or privately owned sailing vessels through the region is extremely hazardous and may result in capture.  The U.S. Government advises against all operation of, or travel by, yachts or pleasure craft in the region.  Vessels that make this passage despite this warning should make contact in advance with naval authorities.  American citizens aboard should inform the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of their plans to transit the area and/or update their information via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at: http://step.state.gov/.  Yachting guidance can be found at: http://www.mschoa.org/on-shore/home.
  5. U.S. flag vessels that observe suspicious activity in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, and Gulf of Oman are advised to report such suspicious activity or any hostile or potentially hostile action to the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Battle Watch Captain, phone: +11 973 1785 3879, email: cusnc.bwc@me.navy.mil. All suspicious activities and events must also be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 800-424-8802 in accordance with 33 C.F.R. § 101.305.
  6. A Ship Hostile Action Report (SHAR) should also be sent to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) at: http://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal?_nfpb=true&_st=&_pageLabel=msi_portal_page_70&subCode=06 as soon as possible following an incident or suspected activity (including apparent surveillance being conducted by small vessels/boats). Reference NGA Pub 117 at (http://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=msi_portal_page_62&pubCode=0009) for further guidance.
  7. Contact Information: For any questions about this advisory, contact MARADSecurity@dot.gov.
  8. Cancellation of Prior Advisories: This message cancels legacy MARAD Advisories 2016-014 (Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Bab el Mandeb), 2011-5 (Vessels Transiting the High Risk Waters of the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and Waters off the Horn of Africa (Somalia) and legacy Special Warnings 001 (Reintroduction of Special Warnings), 122 (East Africa), 123 (Somalia), and 127 (Sudan). This U.S. Maritime Advisory will automatically expire on October 19, 2017.