In light of the escalating tensions in the Middle East, BIMCO has warned shipping owners and operators to remain vigilant and carefully monitor the situation. 

The conflict between the USA and Iran is ongoing and BIMCO warned that further retaliation must be expected. The association added that “Iranian retaliation can take place anywhere in the world, 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”.

For shipping, the most likely targets are ships, crews or cargoes with direct links to the USA, or its closest allies. 

“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 USA to justify retaliatory action and help stoke up the political differences domestically in the USA, as well as between the USA and its usual allies,” added BIMCO. 

The association is therefore encouraging “basic precautions”, including 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.

“Shipowners planning to send ships to the troubled region should carry out a thorough 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,” said BIMCO.