As tensions in the Middle East are rising, South Korean government is rethinking the option of sending naval vessels to the Strait of Hormuz by expanding the operational scope of its anti-piracy ‘Cheonghae Unit’ when the next ship is rotated to the Gulf of Aden next month.
The Royal Navy will accompany British-flagged vessels through the Strait of Hormuz to provide protection during high tensions in the region, according to the Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. As he stated, he has instructed HMS Montrose and HMS Defender to return to accompanying duties of Red Ensign Shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
With one of the most powerful military commander of Iran announced to be killed by a US air strike in Baghdad, Iraq earlier this morning, the merchant shipping heading close to the Middle Eastern waters has been pushed back and put on high alert due to fears that Iran will respond to the American drone strikes.
According to Bloomberg, Iran detained a vessel, along with the crewmembers onboard the vessel, which was transmitting smuggled fuel near the entrance of the Strait of Hormuz. The detained tanker, intercepted close to Abu Musa island, was transferring 1.3 million liters of smuggled fuel, or the equivalent of just 8,000 barrels.
According to the U.S. Naval Forces Command, on 18 December the U.S. flagged container ship named “Maersk Kinloss”, managed to save the life of three Iranian mariners who have been stranded at sea for several days.
It is said that on Thursday, December 19, the Trump administration renewed a waiver for companies to loosen transactions with the Dalian unit of a Chinese tanker company it had sanctioned in September for allegedly transporting Iranian oil, Reuters reports.
The Trump Administration implemented new sanctions against Iran, targeting an Iranian shipping network and airline, as it was announced by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo informed that the designated companies include the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and its China-based subsidiary, E-Sail Shipping.
The Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) confirmed the large oil spill off Kharg Island, which accommodates Iran’s largest offshore oil field and main export loading terminals. The rig might belong to the Abouzar offshore oil field, a large reservoir first developed in the 1970s.
International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) formally launched two new berths which for the first time offer the port of Umm Qasr, Iraq’s main dry cargo port, the ability to handle container vessels of up to 14,000TEU.
During the last SAFETY4SEA Athens Forum, Mr. Rod Lingard, the Club Manager of Hellenic Mutual War Risks Association (Bermuda) Limited, looked at key war risks trends, including sanctions and the recent advice from OFAC on sanctions compliance programmes; developments in the Arabian Gulf; the status of piracy in both the Gulf of Guinea and the Western Indian Ocean.
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