The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) has established a Maritime Security Transit Corridor to protect merchant ships off the Horn of Africa in response to recent attacks against merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Bab Al Mandeb strait.
The Maritime Security Transit Corridor (MSTC) will consist of the existing Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC); the BAM Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) and the TSS West of the Hanish Islands; and a two-way route directly connecting the IRTC and the BAM TSS. When combined, these sections as a whole will make up the MSTC.
The CMF says the purpose of the corridor is to provide a recommended merchant traffic route around which multi-national Naval Forces can focus their presence and surveillance efforts. It is recommended that all vessels use the corridor to benefit from military presence and surveillance.
The CMF is also reminding that all vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden and Bab Al Mandeb should follow the guidance of BMP4 to the maximum extent possible and consider the use of embarked armed security.
Providing some background to the establishment of the MSTC, CMF Commander Admiral Donegan explained that there continues to be risk associated with transits through the Gulf of Aden, Bab-el-Mandeb and the Southern Red Sea, included the risk of piracy and attacks by small, high speed boats using small arms, rocket propelled grenades, and significant amounts of explosives. To date, these sorts of small boat attacks have been unsuccessful and the identity of the attackers remains unclear. However, they demonstrate the continuing risks to the maritime community during passage through these waters.
“Beyond piracy and terrorism, the spillage of conflict in Yemen into the maritime and how it impacts traffic in the Gulf of Aden, and the Bab-el-Mandeb and the Red Sea is a concern, said Admiral Donegan.
“The nexus of these dynamic threats in a constrained area is why we recommend an expansion of not just our naval presence but our operations and how we do business between the area from the Bab-el-Mandeb to the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor. No longer can that area between the Bab-el-Mandeb and start of the transit corridor be ignored,” he said.
Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), with 31 member nations, is a multi-national naval partnership existing to promote security, stability, and prosperity across approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters, which encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes. CMF’s main focus areas are defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation, and promoting a safe maritime environment.