BIMCO backs US plan to patrol Mideast waters to safeguard shipping
BIMCO has voiced its support for US calls to set up a coalition to patrol and safeguard shipping in the Middle East Gulf and Strait of Hormuz in the wake of attacks against oil tankers on May 12 and June 13 in Gulf waters
BIMCO has voiced its support for US calls to set up a coalition to patrol and safeguard shipping in the Middle East Gulf and Strait of Hormuz in the wake of attacks against oil tankers on May 12 and June 13 in Gulf waters.
The world's biggest shipping organisation says it is imperative warships used to protect merchant vessels are coordinated to prevent accidentally igniting conflict. The Copenhagen-based group said it looked forwards to receiving further details about the proposal, reported Lloyd's List.
'Anything that can help increase security in the region right now is something we back,'' BIMCO maritime security head Jakob Larsen.
'On everybody's mind is the risk of misunderstanding between different warships in the area. We all have to be cautious about a spark that could be ignited and that's why any military protection or convoy scheme should be co-ordinated,' he said.
The US has proposed an international military coalition. India has already unilaterally started escorting India-flagged vessels through the area, while UK and US assets are also in the region, which provides vital maritime trade routes. Japan has also said it was 'quite concerned'' about mounting tensions in the Middle East.
Said General Joseph Dunford (USMC), chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff: 'We're engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab.'
This would mark the first military support for merchant ships in the region since naval patrols started escorting ships through Somali pirate-infested waters in 2009.
Said Gen Dunford: 'I think probably over the next couple of weeks we'll identify which nations have the political will to support that initiative and then we'll work directly with the militaries to identify the specific capabilities that will support that.'
Each day 16.8 million barrels of crude oil transits through the Strait of Hormuz, with three-quarters destined for Asia.
The European Union is also heavily reliant on the Middle Eastern refineries in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia for middle distillates, including jet fuel and diesel.
The US would provide 'command and control' ships, leading surveillance efforts, Gen Dunford said, reiterating that the actual patrolling would be done by other countries, which would be expected to provide vessels to patrol waters between these vessels. Coalition members would also be expected to escort their countries' commercial vessels transiting the area.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has just deployed a naval warship to escort a laden Isle of Man-flagged very large crude carrier, Pacific Voyager, through the Strait of Hormuz.
'We are continuously monitoring the security situation there and are committed to maintaining freedom of navigation in accordance with international law,' said the MoD.
The frigate HMS Montrose is providing maritime security in the Middle East Gulf region amid escalating tension between the UK and Iran over the seizure of the tanker Grace 1 in waters off Gibraltar on July 4. The tanker remains detained in Gibraltar as it is suspected of shipping Iranian crude to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.