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Update: INTERTANKO Security Bulletin - Southern Red Sea & Gulf of Aden - Jan 10 2024

SSM Roundel

Steamship Mutual

Published: January 11, 2024

In light of the ongoing security concerns within the Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region the Club would like to share the latest security update as issued by INTERTANKO: 

“During the night of the 9/10 January a comprehensive attack was made on merchant shipping in the Southern Red Sea (SRS). Some 18 drones, two anti-ship missiles and one anti-ship ballistic missile were deployed in the SRS. Thankfully, this attack was intercepted by naval vessels and aircraft in the area belonging to Operation Prosperity Guardian, and resulted in no injuries nor damage to ships – their actions are appreciated by all.

Houthis have previously not undertaken concerted attacks at night as it is thought they lack definitive targeting means during the hours of darkness. Therefore, it is very unclear how the missiles and drones were targeted at ‘Israeli interests’ and appears more likely that they were fired in the general direction of shipping using the SRS. If Members had ships in the area during the attack, the CMF and UKMTO would appreciate any reports of the action from the Master.


Following discussions with military authorities, it is believed that for Somalia-based attackers, the seizures of the Ruen and the Lila Norfolk were motivated for purely piracy reasons. In discussions with Members, some charterers are requiring that ships do not approach closer than 650 Nm to Somalia, whereas in other discussions, a figure of 500 Nm is used. In any event, the threat of seizure from Somalia-based attackers is once again present and the coast of Somalia should be given a wide berth.

Use of AIS

Ships have been attacked both with their AIS on and off, so it is apparent that switching off provides no guarantee of security. However, INTERTANKO advises that ships consider their policy related to keeping the AIS transmissions on during transits. The US-led naval forces recommend that it is switched off as this is the only way in which the Houthis know for sure where a ship is. However, without AIS transmissions, UKMTO may be delayed in providing see-and-avoid services. If AIS is switched off, then please provide additional positional updates to UKMTO.

A leader of the Houthis, Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, recently stated that all ships transiting the region should add a message to their AIS stating, ‘we have no relationship with Israel’. INTERTANKO is unable to ascertain whether this would provide any security to the ship and, considering the untargeted attack during 9/10 January, it would have been ineffective either way.”

For further information on this or other Loss Prevention topics please visit the Loss Prevention website or contact the Loss Prevention Department, Steamship Insurance Management Services Ltd. Tel: +44 20 7247 5490; Email: [email protected]

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