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Red Sea attacks: your questions answered

11 March 2024

The attacks on commercial shipping off Yemen have recently intensified, and Nautilus is now calling for operators to direct all merchant vessels away from the Red Sea.

Until this happens, there are still agreements in place to protect seafarers, which you can read about online here or in the January-February print edition of the Nautilus Telegraph.

Further questions on seafarers' rights in warlike areas were raised by members at the latest meeting of the Nautilus Professional and Technical Forum, and the answers to these are below. If you have anything else to ask, please get in touch at

Q. Is Nautilus keeping a list of ships targeted by the attacks, and are you supporting Nautilus members serving onboard?

A. Yes, we are maintaining a list, which started with the Galaxy Leader on 19 November and is being kept up to date. We are in touch with members who have been affected by the attacks, and anyone else who needs to contact us should do so through the Nautilus 24/7 service

Q. I had to take my UK ship through the Red Sea in December, but wasn't offered the option to divert our route, leave the vessel or receive extra pay. Why was this?

A. It's most likely that your vessel was not covered by a relevant agreement at the time. Initially, the threat was considered to be directed only at vessels with a link to Israel, so the rights conferred by the various warlike area agreements – UK, Netherlands and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)/International Bargaining Forum (IBF) – were assigned accordingly. More recently, the Houthi faction behind the attacks have stated that they consider all UK or US vessels to be legitimate targets, whether or not they have a link to Israel, and the warlike area agreements have been updated to reflect this.

Q. How do I find out whether I have rights under one of the warlike area agreements?

A. You can read about the UK and NL warlike area agreements in our recent Telegraph article. The ITF/IBF agreement is in the resources section of the ITF seafarers' website.

Please note that the rights conferred by the agreements may differ. If you are not sure whether you are covered by one of the agreements, or what your rights are, please email

Please also contact Nautilus if you feel you have been denied rights that you are entitled to, or are concerned that you may experience discrimination if you exert your rights.

Q. What is Nautilus doing to fight for members' rights at a policy-making level?

A. Nautilus represents members on the bodies in the UK and Netherlands that decide on the warlike area agreements for vessels flagged or owned in those countries. We also have input to the ITF/IBF agreement.

In addition, we are pressing national governments and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to take a stand on the rights and protection of seafarers in the Red Sea. IMO secretary general Arsenio Dominquez has responded to this, stressing that seafarers' 'innocent lives' must come above commercial considerations when companies or nations are deciding to divert vessels away from the Red Sea. In a press briefing on 1 February, Mr Dominguez confirmed that he has taken this issue to the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.


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