The emergence of the Houthi waterbourne IED (WBIED) threat in early 2017 presents challenges for the protection of commercial shipping in the Red Sea and Straits of Bab al-Mandab. The threat has continued throughout 2018, with the most recent interdiction of an attempted WBIED attack being on, or about, 7 September 2018.1
As the WBIED platform is effectively on automatic pilot, and hence unmanned, the disablement of technical systems within the WBIED, or destruction by sinking, present the only real options for interdiction. There are no crew members to deter or engage. Whilst military vessels are well equipped with Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) and armed helicopters to interidict this threat, the practical protection available for commercial vessels is much more limited.
The Houthi designed WBIED (2017) were all deployed on the Al Fattan 10m Patrol Boat platform 2 until the 7 September incident, where a new design (WBIED (2018)) was used. Prior to the current Yemen conflict the United Arab Emirates had donated sixty Al Fattan vessels to the Yemeni Navy.
To date there has been one confirmed attack against a Saudi Navy vessel, two attacks on ports in Yemen and a number of unconfirmed interdictions by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. It is therefore HIGHLY LIKELY that the Houthi still maintain the capability to deploy WBIEDs of these types.
This “Quick Look” report examines the technical threat, interdiction options and makes recommendations for the technology to be considered by private maritime security companies (PMSC) and privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) on board ships.
Download full PDF report below.