The UK Department for Transport has raised the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) threat for British ships operating off the coast of Yemen to level three, amid the continuing threat of a terrorist attack from an al-Qaeda offshoot in the region, said media reports. It is the highest level the UK government has issued since the ISPS Code was introduced in 2004.
According to the reports, the revised alert is based on credible information suggesting a “probably or imminent” security threat. The move came after the US closed 19 diplomatic missions, with US security sources claiming the security countermeasures were in response to a potential terrorist plot. Other countries including France and Norway have also closed diplomatic premises.
Mr Neil Roberts, a senior insurance underwriter at Lloyd’s, was quoted as saying that the alert warning for Yemen was issued alongside a broader “level 2” warning covering countries from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, Somalia to the Gulf.
Although insurers have listed Yemen as a high-risk area for the last five years, Mr Roberts said the government advice suggested a more pressing threat. “This is a wake-up call for British shipowners that the risk has increased significantly,” he said.