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Travel Health & Safety Blog

Navigating the red sea safely: Health and security considerations

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ENSURING THE HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELLBEING OF YOUR PEOPLE

Having access to the right information, intelligence and advice at the right time is more crucial than ever. This is particularly important right now for our maritime clients who may be planning journeys through the Red Sea.


As the world’s leading health and security risk management services provider, we are here to support and keep your crew safe, whatever the situation.


BACKGROUND


On 9 November a Houthi statement on social media warned all ships and companies against dealing with Israel ports. Since then, multiple vessels have been the target of attacks by Houthi forces. US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian has been put in place to act as a deterrent against further attacks against commercial shipping. More recently, Operation Poseidon Archer has responded with military strikes on Houthi targets.


For political reasons, both operations are conducted separately, and the latter brings together US and UK military assets, supported by four other countries.


Experts in maritime security, Risk Intelligence (partners of MedAire) are constantly monitoring the situation. Their most recent situational update, as of 24/01, highlighted:


  • Current threat levels vary depending on the vessel’s affiliations:
    • Vessels specifically linked to Israel, United States, United Kingdom (and other countries involved in direct miliary strikes against Houthi forces): Severe threat of missile, drone strikes and possibly seizure.
    • Vessels linked to other countries participating or supporting Operation Prosperity Guardian: Elevated Threat of missile, drones and possibly seizure
    • Other ships in transit through the red sea: Elevated threat of attacks due to misidentification or potential proximity to the above threat
  • Attacks are not limited to the southern Red Sea
  • Maritime traffic in the southern Red Sea remains relatively dense, despite various announcements from ship operators to avoid passages through this area.

HEALTH IMPLICATIONS FOR VESSELS MAKING RED SEA VOYAGES


International SOS provides support to a variety of vessel types. MedSea looks after commercial vessels and MedAire assists our yachting clients, at sea or in port.


Together, our maritime solutions provide essential medical assistance to those working on vessels. When onboard capabilities are exceeded, we can leverage a combined global network of shoreside medical providers to deliver high quality medical care.


Whilst specific implications vary between privately owned and commercial vessels, our general recommendations include:

  • Call early. Call Often. The earlier you call in a medical situation, the more likely we are to resolve the case onboard and avoid a detour or air evacuation in potentially challenging waters.
  • Consider stress/anxiety for crewmembers: It’s important to consider the added stress for crewmembers making these journeys. MedAire/MedSea consider both physical and emotional aspects of health when making recommendations and our holistic approach may provide improved treatment for crewmembers:
    • A crewmember is anxious and struggling to sleep following the recent attack on nearby vessels: we provide general support and guidance, offer them emotional support sessions and if needed, our medical team are able to recommend sleeping aids from the vessel’s medical inventory.
    • A vessel is hit by a strike but fortunately no one is physically injured: Concerned about the emotional state of the crewmembers, we coordinate a visit from a qualified mental health professional at the next port of call, to provide critical incident support.
  • Ensure access to quality shoreside capabilities: International SOS maintains a vast network of approved and verified medical providers, allowing us to source shoreside medical facilities and ensure that appropriate, high quality care options are available along your route.
  • Consider the possibility of a medical evacuation: Our teams are experts at coordinating patient movement and have done so in numerous challenging locations. If movement is required to improve patient outcomes, MedAire/MedSea clients can rely on the strength of our in-country ground transportation and air ambulance networks.
  • Ensure your onboard medical equipment is sufficient enough to manage multiple casualties, potentially over a prolonged period.

SECURITY RECOMMENDATIONS


Risk Intelligence strongly recommends that management assess whether the respective vessel has been owned or managed by Israel-affiliated companies in the past. Such information may not have been updated in publicly available databases and could lead to misidentification of current commercial links with Israel.


Prior to voyages through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, management should conduct a thorough ship and voyage-specific threat and risk assessment in line with shipping industry best practices. All such assessments can be provided by Risk Intelligence (contact your MedAire/Sea Account Manager and we will arrange a meeting). In addition, the following measures should also be considered:


  • Constant monitoring of the security situation, enabling vessels to avoid locations with recent or ongoing incidents. [MedAire Yachting membership clients can access Risk Intelligence security alerts through the client portal]
  • Introduction/update of contingency plans on the company level to address the possibility of seafarers being injured, killed or kidnapped during a security incident. The plan should include contingency and emergency plans; appropriate drills should be completed.
  • Crew briefings and scenario drills based on a valid and relevant anti-attack plan to ensure that incidents are reported and alarm is raised without delay when required. Drills should include scenarios with major damage and casualties.
  • Enhancement of firefighting, evacuation and damage control procedures, taking into account the possibility of significant damage as a result of direct targeting or collateral damage.
  • Emergency contacts placed readily available on the bridge.
  • Bridge team briefing regarding hailing/harassment via VHF, prepared responses and immediate contact with naval forces in the respective area. (Local authorities' calls on VHF may be an act of spoofing or even targeting, underlined by several incidents in recent days which involved self-proclaimed 'Yemeni authorities' or the 'Yemeni navy' ordering merchant ships to alter course.)
  • Preparation of citadel with emergency provisions and functioning satellite phone.

Whether you are a shipowner, operator or manager or a superyacht captain, looking to travel through the Red Sea or beyond, we offer tailored solutions to help keep your people safe. Contact us here to speak to a member of our team to find out more.


If you are a MedAire Yachting client and would like to find out more about Risk Intelligence's solutions, reach out to your Account Manager. 

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