Updated 3 December 2019

United Nations reports a dramatic drop in acts of war in Yemen but so far, no changes to the status of Yemeni ports or to the port entry clearance conditions have been announced. 

 

 

This is article is also available in Japanese.

In a recent report to the United Nations (UN) Security Council, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen states that “Parties to the conflict in Yemen – still home to one of the world’s most brutal conflicts and its worst humanitarian crisis – have reached several key compromise agreements, which has led to a dramatic drop in the tempo of war”. Outlining positive strides, the Special Envoy cites developments such as the Riyadh Agreement, signed on 5 November between the Government and the Southern Transitional Council, a decrease in violence – with the observation that there have been 48-hour periods without airstrikes “for the first time since the conflict began” – and the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement, which among other things, has enabled fuel ships to enter the crucial port city of Hodeidah, averting a worsening humanitarian crisis.

However, at the time of writing, there have been no changes to the status of Yemeni ports or to the port clearance conditions and ship operators and their masters are advised to continuously evaluate the situation, carry out an assessment of the risks involved prior to entering or transiting Yemeni waters, and take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the vessel and its crew.

Port situation

According to information received from our correspondent Gulf Agency Co. (Yemen) Ltd. (GAC), the port situation in Yemen as at 3 December 2019 is as follows:

  • Working: Aden, Rudhum Oil Exporting Terminal, Mukalla, Ash Shihr Oil Exporting Terminal, Nishtun, Saleef and Hodeidah
  • Closed: Mokha, Ras Isa Marine Terminal (Safer), Ras Isa Petroleum Products Reception Facility and Balhaf LNG Terminal

While the correspondent states that working ports are operating in a normal manner, it is worth noting that the capacity of working ports may be limited as there may be a lack of fuel supplies and other basic services. The correspondent also advice of the potential for cargo shortage/damage claims in Yemeni ports. Vessels attempting to enter Yemeni ports may also experience postponements and delays due the special entry conditions in force and multiple inspections carried out by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition.

Port entry conditions

Shipping companies or owners shipping commercial goods or services, including bilateral assistance not channelled through a UN agency or a recognised international humanitarian organisation, to ports not under the direct control of the Government of Yemen must obtain prior clearance from the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM). Complete clearance requests should be submitted no later than five days prior to the vessel’s arrival at the outer limits of these ports and preferably before the departure of the vessel from its port of loading, depending on the availability of the vessel’s documents. Any clearance request received after this period will incur delays in the clearance process. For more details, including the UNVIM standard operating procedures, list of requested documents, and the clearance request form, please refer to the UNVIM website: https://www.vimye.org.

The (working) ports not under the direct control of the Government of Yemen are Hodeidah and Saleef.

Vessels calling at ports that are under the control of the Government of Yemen, that is, all working ports other than Hodeidah and Saleef, must continue to apply for entry permissions through the Yemeni Ministry of Transportation using the form: Entry permission for commercial and relief ships to Yemeni ports. The form should be completed and sent by email to the Operations Unit of the Supreme Relief Committee at: yemen.transport@gmail.com no less than a week before the vessel’s entry/arrival.

Entry to Yemeni territorial waters will be granted only following an inspection by the naval forces of Saudi Arabian-led coalition. Once a vessel reaches the outskirts of Bab-el-Mandeb, some 3nm from Yemen’s territorial waters, a notice of arrival must be called in by the Master on VHF channel 16. The naval forces of the Saudi Arabian-led coalition will then advice where the vessel should anchor pending completion of the inspection and approval of the port entry. Once the vessel is permitted to enter port, the Master must register the vessel’s arrival with the port authorities (on VHF Channel 14 or 16) and will then be assigned an anchoring position until the berthing time is confirmed by the Harbour Master

Recommendations

Members and clients calling at Yemeni ports are advised to take note of the above vessel clearance procedures and clarify the security situation and the status of a port’s services well before arrival as availability of cranes, fuel, manpower, etc. may be limited.

The security situation is subject to rapid change and Members and clients are advised to warn their vessels’ crews of the volatility of the situation and to carry out an assessment of the risks involved prior to entering or transiting Yemeni waters. It is important to make frequent checks with local sources of information, e.g. vessel’s agent, Gard’s correspondent, etc., to obtain the most up to date and reliable security information available at any given time. Information may also be obtained via Gulf Agency Co. Ltd.’s (GAC) website under “Hot Port News”.

The conflict in Yemen has also introduced additional maritime security threats, other than piracy, to the Southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb. These include collateral damage due to the conflict between local groups and a potentially deliberate targeting of vessels. We would therefore like to emphasise the importance of closely following the guidance provided by the Interim Guidance on Maritime Security in the Southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb and the BMP5 when operating in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region. Vessels should register with the Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) and report to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), to ensure that the military is aware of their presence in the region, and use the Maritime Security Transit Corridor (MSTC), which is a military established corridor upon which naval forces focus their presence and surveillance efforts.

We would like to thank Gard’s correspondent Gulf Agency Co. (Yemen) Ltd. for their assistance in the preparation of this update.

Other Gard publications

The US International Port Security Program

In accordance with the latest Port Security Advisory (2-19) of 16 May 2019, the US Coast Guard (USCG) has determined that, with exception of Balhaf LNG Terminal, ports in Yemen are not maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures. The USCG has separate more stringent, security protocols in place for ships arriving to the US from Balhaf. Ships planning to arrive to the US from Balhaf should contact the relevant USCG Captain of the Port well in advance. However, at the time of writing, Balhaf Terminal is reported to be closed.

Under the US Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), the USCG is required to assess the effectiveness of antiterrorism measures implemented in foreign ports from which US documented vessels and foreign vessels depart on a voyage to the US and other foreign ports believed to pose a security risk to international maritime commerce. As ports with ineffective antiterrorism measures are identified, this information is published in the Federal Register and the USCG will impose conditions of entry on vessels arriving in the US that visited such ports as one of their last five ports of call. Under the conditions of entry, affected vessels must:

  • implement measures as per the ship’s security plan equivalent to security level 2 while in port in Yemen;
  • ensure that each access point to the ship is guarded and that the guards have total visibility of the exterior (both landside and waterside) of the vessel while it is in port in Yemen;
  • attempt to execute a declaration of security while in port in Yemen;
  • log all security actions in the ship’s security records; and
  • report the actions taken to the relevant Coast Guard captain of the port prior to arrival in US waters.

Any affected vessel that does not meet the stipulated conditions may be denied entry into the US.

The complete list of ports considered to have ineffective antiterrorism measures along with the associated conditions of entry are included in the policy notices available on the US Coast Guard website: International Port Security Programs