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Jul 12 2023


The purpose of this report is to provide a current assessment on the threat posed to merchant vessels transiting the Mediterranean in international waters. The risks to vessels when operating closer to shore or within confined areas and port exit/entry is likely higher due to increased opportunities it provides for a potential attacker. Therefore, we kindly recommend that the Company Security Officers pay special attention particular for certain port calls and advise their crews accordingly.

Illicit activities in the Mediterranean and resulting threat for shipping

Various illicit activities are observed and reported across the Mediterranean, which includes inter alia human trafficking and drug smuggling. Small, modern high-speed vessels involved in drug trafficking in particular in the Western Mediterranean potentially pose an indirect and non-intentional threat for commercial shipping, which is considered low. However, vessels calling ports in this area should be still vigilant of the threat that exists, mainly caused by corruption, smuggling and to a lesser extent, human trafficking or stowaways. The evolving conflict in Libya still dominates the security situation in the Central Mediterranean. Considering actions carried out by the Libyan Coastguard ships that are not bound for ports within the controlled area may wish to consider routes north of 34:00N to avoid any potential for misidentification (NAVWARN 225/2016). The Eastern Mediterranean is an extremely dense region and suffers from an ongoing regional conflict in Syria. Wide ranges of military units from various nations are carrying out naval operations. The benefit of this military presence is also a prudent visible deterrence against any terrorist or criminal related activity that could take place resulting in a very low risk by terrorist attacks.

GNSS and AIS interferences

Since the summer of 2019, there have been frequent observations of loss and interference of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) on board vessels and aircraft operating in the area roughly bounded by MALTA – ZUWARAH (western Libya) and MISARATA. In the Syrian Channel, it was observed an electromagnetic spectrum jamming and spoofing of GNSS and AIS systems. Merchant vessels continue to regularly report observations of GNSS interference when in or near Port Said/Egypt, likewise when sailing in the Syrian channel and west/northwest coast of the Lebanon.


The SECURITY and TERRORISM threat towards merchant vessels in international waters in the MEDITERRANEAN is LOW.

Threat assessment states: Very High - High – Medium – Low – Very Low

Reporting and cooperation

NATO Shipping Centre would greatly appreciate reports and experiences from shipping in order to gain an understanding of all threats and incidents in the Mediterranean that allows us to issue relevant advice for merchant shipping. All information received will be treated confidential.

Story by Public Affairs Office at MARCOM

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