The U.S. Maritime Administration has posted the following bulletin. It’s available on the agency’s website HERE.
U.S. MARITIME ADVISORY 2020-013
Threat Type: Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping/Terrorism
Geographic Area: Sulu and Celebes Seas
This revised advisory cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2020-003
1. Issue: So far in 2020, there has been one reported kidnapping in the Sulu and Celebes Seas, reportedly linked to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a violent Islamic separatist group operating in the southern Philippines. Specific case details are available at the Office of Naval Intelligence’s “Worldwide Threat to Shipping” and “Piracy Analysis and Warnings” website at https://www.oni.navy.mil/News/Shipping-Threat-Reports/. Maritime security centers in this region have issued warnings as recently as July 2020 that members of ASG continue planning to conduct kidnapping operations targeting foreigners.
2. Guidance: U.S. flagged vessels are advised to remain vigilant and adhere to the counter-piracy annex of their approved Vessel Security Plan when transiting the Sulu and Celebes Seas in light of boardings and kidnappings for ransom that have taken place in those areas. The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia’s (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Center advises all ships to avoid anchoring outside port limit areas and to exercise enhanced vigilance, maintain strict look-outs (particularly during hours of darkness), and report all incidents to the relevant authorities immediately. Additional information on threats in this region, including specific recommendations for vessels transiting the area, are available on the ReCAAP website at www.recaap.org.
3. Mariners operating in or near these areas are also advised to consult the Department of State Travel Warnings at https://go.usa.gov/xUKGQ.
4. All suspicious activities and events must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 800-424-8802 in accordance with 33 CFR 101.305.
5. Contact Information: For any questions about this advisory, contact GMCC@uscg.mil Supplemental information may also be found on the MARAD Office of Maritime Security website at https://go.usa.gov/xUKG7. ReCAAP Focal Points Contact Information is available at http://www.recaap.org/focal-points.
6. Cancellation of Prior Advisories: This message cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2020-003 and will automatically expire on January 12, 2021.
For more information about U.S. Maritime Alerts and Advisories, including subscription details, please visit https://go.usa.gov/xETEA.