Finance and InsuranceMiddle EastOperations

Joint War Committee to hold urgent talks on the back of Fujairah attacks

Shipowners should brace for higher insurance premiums for ships transiting the Middle East. 

The Joint War Committee (JWC), which comprises underwriting representatives from both the Lloyd’s and International Underwriting Association company markets, is set to hold an extraordinary meeting today in London to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the Gulf on the back of four tankers suffering attacks on Sunday and a Saudi pipeline reportedly hit by armed drones on Tuesday. 

The JWC normally meets once a quarter, but as tensions rise between the US and Iran over sanctions and an American naval build-up in the Middle East, the insurance body is meeting to assess the situation. 

Four tankers suffered ruptures to the stern of their hulls in what appears to be a coordinated attack on Sunday morning in waters off Fujairah, sparking security concerns around the port and the key Strait of Hormuz. 

In the wake of the tanker attacks, the Norwegian Maritime Authority took the decision to warn owners to up their security levels to MarSec 2 around Fujairah waters, which corresponds to an elevated threat warning around the port. 

According to a seven-page document from the Norwegian Shipowners’ Mutual War Risks Insurance Association, seen by Splash, either underwater drones armed with explosives or limpet mines were used in the attack on the four ships on Sunday. The ships hit were from Norway, the UAE and two from Saudi Arabia. 

With the security situation in the area descending into chaos many shipowners are taking precautionary measures. Reuters is reporting that Japanese shipping major Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), one of the world’s largest shipping lines, has decided to stop sending tankers for refuelling, maintenance or crew swaps in Fujairah.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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