Accordingly, after the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, Iran's resident Hasan Rouhani replied that 'Iran and the other free nations of the region will take revenge for this gruesome crime from criminal America.' 

In the meantime, following the tensions in the area between Iran and the US, the Royal Navy is already escorting UK-flagged vessels sailing in the Strait of Hormuz, whereas South Korea is rethinking the option of sending naval vessels to the Strait of Hormuz.

BIMCO commented that, the killing of Soleimani, the firing of missiles at US military targets by Iran in retaliation, as well as the shooting down of a Ukrainian airplaine by Iran, further retaliation by Iran must be expected by the shipping industry.

In the light of the escalated tension, owners and operators should continue to carefully monitor the situation

... BIMCO alerts.

In addition, the Association added that the Iranian "reply" can happen anywhere in the globe, either  on land or at sea, where Iran and their Shia proxies have the possibility to hit the US or their allies, including the Persian Gulf, the Straits of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, the Bab el-Mandeb and the Red Sea.

The potential Iranian retaliation may target ships, crews or cargoes with direct links to the US or its closest allies.

Moreover, following the past attacks on tankers off Fujairah and in the Gulf of Oman, BIMCO comments that attacks against shipping in general cannot be overseen.

This could be in an Iranian attempt to disrupt freedom of navigation in and out of the Persian Gulf, or as the result of collateral damage. It is expected that Iran will seek options for retaliation that include an element of plausible deniability of involvement, as this will make it more difficult for the US to justify retaliatory action and help stoke up the political differences domestically in the US, as well as between the US and its usual allies.

Consequently, it is recommended that the industry follows several basic precautions when operating in these sensitive areas where the US-Iran conflict can spill over.

The precautions include:

  • reporting to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO);
  • strengthening the ship's watertight integrity and firefighting capability and improve lookout and general awareness of how the situation develops.

Also, shipowners that are to send vessels to the intense region must always conduct a detailed risk assessment and consider all relevant factors. Some shipowners will choose to stay away completely, while others will find it safe enough to carry out the voyage. Such a decision depends on the risk appetite of the shipowner and the outcome of the risk assessment. BIMCO normally does not issue recommendations regarding whether to suspend or continue shipping in specific regions. This is also the case regarding the Persian Gulf.

Concerning US President Donald Trump's new Executive Order, OFAC has the authority to impose wide sanctions targeting persons operating in and supporting Iran´s construction, mining, manufacturing and textile sectors and any other sector of the Iranian economy as may be determined. Therefore, eight senior Iranian officials, 17 Iranian metal producers and mining companies and a network of China- and Seychelles-based entities were designated.

Overall, BIMCO proposes to interested parties to follow the "Sanctions clause for time charter parties 2020" and "Sanctions clause for voyage charter parties 2020", as they will be informed on how to navigate the risks and to protect the innocent party in case of sanctions' violation.