Warships escort British tanker in Mideast waters after Iran levels threat
WARSHIPS are reportedly escorting a British tanker in the Middle East Gulf region after senior Iranian figures threatened to seize a British ship after the Royal Navy seized an Iranian vessel off Gibraltar, reports London's Lloyd's List
WARSHIPS are reportedly escorting a British tanker in the Middle East Gulf region after senior Iranian figures threatened to seize a British ship after the Royal Navy seized an Iranian vessel off Gibraltar, reports London's Lloyd's List.
The British Ministry of Defence declined to confirm the escort.
The 302,290-dwt Isle of Man-flagged Pacific Voyager, carrying two million barrels of crude, was accompanied by at least two naval vessels for part of its journey through the Strait of Hormuz after sailing from Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia on July 7.
Another Isle of Man-flagged tanker, the smaller 160,000-dwt British Heritage, diverted and failed to load its 140,000 tonnes of crude at Basrah, Iraq the day Grace 1 was intercepted off Gibraltar.
Instead, the smaller vessel headed to Saudi waters where it has remained. Shell had chartered the ship. Operators BP Shipping did not respond to a request for comment.
The escorts and diversions are seen amid hardening Iranian rhetoric following the interception and impounding of an Iranian-controlled very large crude carrier Grace 1.
Twenty British-flagged vessels of 15,000 dwt or above have sailed through the Strait of Hormuz into Middle East Gulf waters since July 2, according to Lloyd's List Intelligence data.
This includes a naval auxiliary tanker Wave Ruler, which arrived early on July 8, as well as commercially-owned liquefied petroleum gas carriers, liquefied natural gas carriers, product tankers, containerships and crude carriers, data show. No other vessels appeared to be bound for Basra, which is closest to the Iranian border
The UK Chamber of Shipping said it was working with the UK government and relevant departments in light of the threats made by Iran.
Maritime security for Iranian waters had already been raised by the Department for Transport to the highest level (three), signifying exceptional risk, said Gavin Simmonds, policy director at the Chamber.
'It is highly unusual for level three to be declared so we are assessing the implications of level three being set to the adjoining waters, and what this means in terms of increased threats,' he said.