Shipowners should seek voyage-specific advice from their P&I club and war risk underwriter prior to calling at Libyan ports, according to a circular from the International Chamber of Shipping.
Vessels intending to call at Misrata in particular are advised to contact port and flag state authorities and local shipping agents for further instructions.
Meanwhile, ships transiting the Mediterranean should remain clear of Libyan waters, the trade association linking national shipowner bodies believes.
The move follows an airstrike of January 5, which killed two seafarers on board the Aegean Shipping Management tanker Araevo (28,610 dwt, built 1991) while alongside at Derna, and a further attack near Benghazi last week.
Incidents such as these highlight what the ICS describes as a significant security concern to ships operating in and near to Libyan waters.
There have also been reports that an officer of the Libyan airforce has declared ships calling at the port of Misrata will be targeted by the country’s military aircraft.
“The continued conflict between rival factions in Libya limits the ability of government forces to clearly differentiate between legitimate threats and innocent vessels,” the ICS said.
“Coupled with the presence of armed militant groups in coastal regions, there is an increased risk of commercial ships being attacked.”
Elsewhere, the ICS has also pointed to an increased risk of attacks on merchant traffic in and around the Suez Canal.
The recent hijacking of an Egyptian warship indicates that militants in the Sinai Peninsula are able to operate in the maritime environment and to attack maritime targets.
Along with the rocket attack against the Cosco Asia in 2013, indications are that a threat may exist to commercial shipping in the area. “As such, the general advice must be to exercise increased caution and maintain vigilance, particularly when ships are waiting in the approaches to the canal,” said the ICS.
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