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Heightened security risks take their toll

Assaults on commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, including attacks on six tankers and the seizure of the UK-operated vessel Stena Impero, have raised concerns about navigation through the world’s busiest shipping channels.

Located between Oman and Iran, the Strait of Hormuz connects the Middle East Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. About a fifth of the world’s oil passes through the channel and the recent tensions in the region have highlighted how important the area is to the world's energy markets.

With regard to navigation via the strait, shipping associations have called on ship owners and operators to inform the UK navy of their movements before sailing into the Middle East Gulf and Strait of Hormuz as tensions in the region escalate.

Ship captains are also being asked to provide the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations with their transit plans 24 to 48 hours before entering the region. Reuters reports that this information will be passed onto the US navy and other naval forces involved in efforts to create a multinational security initiative known as Operation Sentinel.

Other reports suggest that shipping lines are already deploying more security guards as an extra safeguard. HLPFI understands that some multipurpose operators are paying significant additional war risk premiums and have adjusted freight rates and surcharges accordingly.

The situation has also prompted some owners and operators of UK-flagged vessels to contemplate changing flag registration in order to avoid possible seizure by Iran; others ships, meanwhile, have been accompanied by a Royal Navy escort when passing through the Strait.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), added: “In the 21st century it is not acceptable for seafarers and ships to become pawns in any way, they must be allowed to operate in safety. We will be reviewing the situation and remain in contact with relevant authorities.”

Shipowners and operators will need to remain vigilant and cautious in these volatile times. We all hope that a democratic resolution will emerge.

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