The UK Government has issued the highest possible security alert yesterday for British shipping operating off the coast of Yemen amid continuing threat of a terrorist attack from an al-qaeda offshoot in the region .
The Department for Transport raised the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) threat for British shipping to level 3, which is judged ‚Äúexceptional‚Äù. This indicates that credible information suggests that a security threat is ‚Äúprobable or imminent‚Äù Security experts said that the move was unprecedented since the ISPS code was introduced in 2004. ¬†It came after the United States closed 19 diplomatic missions last week. US security sources insisted the security countermeasures were in response to a potential terrorist plot. Britain, France and Norway have also closed diplomatic premises
Neil Roberts, a senior insurance underwriter at Lloyd‚Äôs, said that the ‚Äúlevel 3‚Äù warning for Yemen was issued by the Department of Transport, alongside a broader ‚Äúlevel 2‚Äù warning covering countries from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia,¬†Somalia to the Gulf. Britain has two Naval vessels operating close to Yemen, the Type 23 frigates HMS Westminster and HMS Somerset. A large volume of international shipping uses the narrow waters around the Yemen coast en route to the Suez Canal ¬†Maritime security experts operating in the area said that the warning of a threat would place British-flagged vessels in a state of ‚Äúcomplete lockdown‚Äù and prevent them from docking in Yemeni ports.