With tanker rates sky high there has been little cut back in traffic along the Strait of Hormuz this past week (see tweet below) despite the sudden rise in tensions between Iran and the US. However, for John Thompson and his team at Ambrey Risk, it’s been a manic week with the phones ringing off the hook with owners and operators seeking advice.
Ambrey, one of the world’s top maritime security consultants, employs a wide array of passive and active countermeasures for ships in hotspots around the world, in accordance with the regulatory climate, industry best practice and a client’s likely exposure.
“Our role is to ensure our clients keep moving,” Thompson, Ambrey’s group managing director, says. “We seek to elevate the safety of our clients’ assets and crew, so it is a daily conversation that reflects the ever-evolving situation in the Middle East; some clients have been advised to avoid the region entirely, and have acted accordingly. Others may continue to trade with contingencies in place.”
Ambrey has seen a marked rise in interest from both established and prospective clients, though not as discernible as in the wake of events in 2019 when a number of ships were attacked and kidnapped in the region. Last year, Ambrey contracted a 15% uplift in business in the Strait of Hormuz.
“Where deemed appropriate, we recommend that operators align themselves with major tanker owners and use bridge advisors to meet the heightened threat,” Thompson suggests.
Despite some of the hyperbolic headlines and feverish comments on Twitter in recent days, Thompson argues that the threat to shipping remains broadly unchanged in light of recent events, something that is reflected by the decision reached earlier this week in London by the Joint War Committee, who decided to make no dramatic changes to insurance coverage for ships transiting the area.
Iran’s involvement in harassing merchant shipping over the past couple of years has been well documented by the analysts at Ambrey.
“Ambrey assesses it likely that Iran was responsible for attacks and hostile approaches against vessels underway and anchored in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf,” Thompson says. “Ambrey has first-hand experience of Iranian bridge-to-bridge spoofing, as well as privileged information as to a recent hostile approach by Iranian forces, which has not been publicly disclosed.”
With that, Thompson has to go, there’s a phone ringing in the background.
Here's a @MarineTraffic 24h video playback (January 8th-9th 2020) showing traffic in the #StraitOfHormuz. Vessels are still going and forth without any issues. If you see vessels crossing land, then that's because their AIS transponders have been manually switched off. #OOTT pic.twitter.com/kDzTMU5yoA
— TankerTrackers.com, Inc.⚓️? (@TankerTrackers) January 9, 2020