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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation
MSCI Advisory

2020-008-Southern Gulf of Mexico-Vessel Attacks


1. Reference: U.S. Maritime Alert 2020-004A

2. Issue: The U.S. government is aware of at least 20 fishing vessels and 35 oil platforms and offshore supply vessels that have been targeted by pirates and armed robbers since January 2018 in the Bay of Campeche area of the southern Gulf of Mexico. Significant underreporting of attacks in this area is suspected. These attacks have involved the discharge of firearms, crew injuries, hostage taking, and theft. At least five of these attacks occurred in April 2020, details of which are provided in the Office of Naval Intelligence's 30 April 2020 Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) report, available at A current summary of recent attacks and threats in this region will be included in the most recent Office of Naval Intelligence weekly WTS report, which is available at

3. The pirates/robbers targeting offshore infrastructure and vessels in this area typically operate in small groups of between 5 and 15 individuals aboard several boats. They usually employ small fiberglass hulled craft, similar in appearance to local artisanal fishing boats, equipped with multiple high-powered outboard motors that enable fast travel to the oil fields located between five and ninety-five nautical miles offshore. They typically carry out their raids under the cover of darkness so that their approach is masked and so that they can use platform lights to navigate towards their target. The attackers are reportedly armed with an assortment of weapons including assault rifles, shotguns, pistols, machetes, knives and tools. They are known to use violence to ensure compliance and prevent resistance.

4. Guidance: U.S. mariners and U.S. flagged vessels are advised to remain vigilant and to ensure familiarity with and adherence to their approved Vessel Security Plan when operating in this area. The Department of State’s Mexico Travel Advisory (available at should also be thoroughly reviewed prior to operating in this area. In addition, all suspicious activities and events involving U.S. flagged vessels 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: Suspicious activity and attacks in this region should be reported to the Mexican Navy’s Third Naval Region Campeche at +52 981 812 0881 or For any questions about the contents of this advisory, contact Incident reports should be submitted in writing to the Regional Mexican Navy command within 24 hours in the Spanish language.

6. Cancellation: This message will automatically expire on November 7, 2020.

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