UKMTO advisory on heightened drone activity in Yemen

The UKMTO released an Advisory 002/OCT/2023, advising that there is heightened Uncrewed Aerial System (UAS) activity heading north out of Yemen. There are currently no indications that commercial maritime vessels are the intended target. Ship’s Masters have been asked to report any UAS activity to UKMTO.

The heightened UAS activity, is significant and appears to be connected to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, particularly the Israel-Gaza conflict. UAS, commonly referred to as drones, can be used for various purposes, including reconnaissance, surveillance, and potentially for delivering explosives or conducting attacks.

Yemen has been a hotspot for regional conflicts and is home to Houthi rebel forces, which are widely believed to be backed by Iran. The involvement of Houthi forces in missile and drone attacks is a recurrent concern, as they have targeted multiple countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The interception of three missiles and several drones by the U.S. Navy destroyer USS CARNEY, believed to have been launched from Yemen and possibly in the direction of Israel, is a significant development. This indicates the potential for regional destabilization and a broader conflict.

The report suggests that the missiles were likely launched by the Iranian-backed Houthi forces. Iran’s support for Houthi rebels with advanced missile systems and other military equipment is well-documented and has raised concerns in the international community.

The UKMTO advisory emphasizes that there are currently no indications that commercial maritime vessels are the intended targets of the UAS activity. However, given the volatile situation in the region and the unpredictability of such conflicts, it is important for ship operators to remain vigilant and report any suspicious UAS activity to UKMTO.

This incident is indicative of the complex and interconnected nature of conflicts in the Middle East. It underscores the importance of monitoring and assessing regional developments to ensure the safety and security of commercial maritime activities, while also highlighting the potential for wider regional tensions and conflicts to impact maritime operations. Ship operators should stay informed and take necessary precautions to safeguard their vessels and crews in this volatile environment.

Should you require any further assistance contact our team at or call +44 (0) 20 7315 4221.

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