Egypt: Attempted unauthorised access to ships at Port Said

Port news

Published: 3 October 2015 Updated:

Members are advised to urge continued vigilance for masters, crew and vessels calling at Egyptian ports and transiting the Suez Canal. Recently there have been renewed attempts by unauthorised persons to gain access to ships for the purpose of committing fraud.

The issue

It appears that representatives claiming to be acting on behalf of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) have sought to gain unauthorised access to vessels at Port Said. In particular they claim to be arranging a "test analysis" for the vessel's crew, specifically they seek to undertake blood tests and then are asking the master for a payment.

The SCA has stated that they are not engaged in any such programme and that no one has been authorised to engage in such activity on the SCA's behalf. Anyone claiming to be representing the SCA in this regard is acting unlawfully and without authority.

A letter, in Arabic, from the SCA with a translation was provided to the Association by Messrs. MESCO which outlined the situation.

Risk management advice

Vessels should, as part of their ISPS compliance, always check who is seeking to gain access to their ships and verify that persons seeking access are acting with authority and lawful purpose. Unless it can be verified that a visitor is expected or has a right to come on board, access should not be granted. Masters should act with full shore and management support in maintaining the security of their crew, vessel and cargo.

Egypt has experienced a period of upheaval in recent years, and the Association advised on these matters previously. Although a new government has taken charge of the country, there appears to be a continued issue with respect to security matters. The government has sought to address some of these concerns by way of constructing a security fence along certain lengths of the canal and tightening access to the Canal zone. In other areas of the country, however, the security environment remains challenging.

The Association has previously advised against crew change-overs and shore leave, while Egypt was experiencing particularly intense upheaval in 2013. At present the Association would advise vessels, crew and shore side support to continue to proceed conservatively with their risk assessment and management, and to proceed generally with caution. It is advised that frequent checks and enquiries should be made as to the very latest local advice and information.

In case of concern, members and masters should not hesitate to contact the Associations' nearest local correspondent.

Further reading

The Association has covered the 2013 situation in Egypt in detail and has also given specific advice with respect to other past fraud attempts concerning the Suez Canal passage as well as detailed advice on the ISPS Code.

For vessel specific enquiries, members are asked to contact their usual Skuld business unit.

For further information, members are asked to contact the Loss Prevention team: 

The Association is grateful to Messrs. Middle East Survey & Control Office (MESCO) for advising the Association of this situation.