Norway puts alert level ban on Norwegian-flag ships to call Red Sea ports

The Norwegian Maritime Authority raises the security level in the southern part of the Red Sea to the highest level, level 3, amid Yemen’s Houthi attacks on vessels.

It was explained that level 3 means operational restrictions will be put into place, while transit will be discouraged.

Alert level bans Norwegian-flag ships from calling at ports in the geographical area covered by security level 3.

Although sailing through the area is still possible if deemed justifiable by the shipping company, the Norwegian Maritime Authority recommends avoiding such traffic until the situation changes.

The authority urges a high level of vigilance in the southern part of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

As it is mentioned, there may be a risk of wrong intelligence or wrong target selection, which in the worst case could hit random vessels.

It is also reported that there is a general sea mine threat south of Hodeidah along the coast of Yemen in the southern part of the Red Sea that may affect merchant vessels.

“Security level 3 implies that Norwegian-registered ships are not permitted to call at ports in the geographical area covered by security level 3. There is a clear pattern of incidents demonstrating that Houthi insurgents have information and capability to hit vessels that have a connection to Israel,” it is said in a statement by the authority.

United States and its allies on Monday shared that they will be forming a new international force to shield ships passing through the Red Sea.

Norway is one of 10 nations that have joined US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian, a multinational operation to safeguard commerce in the Red Sea following a series of missile and drone attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis.

The other participating countries in the operation include the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Seychelles and Spain.

Recently, the motor tanker “Strinda” was attacked by what is assessed to have been an Anti-Ship Cruise Missile (ASCM) launched from a Houthi controlled area of Yemen, while passing through the Bab-el-Mandeb.

The ship is owned in Norway by Mowinckel Chemical Tankers AS and operated by AS J. Ludwig Mowinckels Rederi.

She is a 19,959 dwt chemical tanker built 2006 by Fukuoka Shipbuilding in Japan and carry the Norwegian flag.

Knut Arild Hareide, director general of shipping and navigation, said: “We have recently seen several serious attacks on civilian ships. The militia responsible for the attacks claims that they only target ships with ties to the conflict in Israel. However, due to the uncertainty surrounding the information used to target ships, the decision has been made to elevate the security level.”

“While Norwegian ships are not prohibited from navigating through the area, the elevated security level sends a clear message that the situation is ambiguous and has worsened,” adding: “Traffic in the area should be avoided.”

“We are aware of various international and Norwegian initiatives aimed at enhancing security. The NMA will continually evaluate. If changes result in increased security, we are prepared to lower the security level accordingly,” highlighted Hareide.