Middle EastOperations

Shipping told be more vigilant when transiting near Iran

Commercial shipping – especially US-flagged ships – have been warned to remain extremely vigilant when transiting waters near Iran. The warning comes following yesterday’s seizure by Iran of 10 US navy sailors who were taken into custody while travelling from Kuwait to Bahrain.

Two riverine patrol boats were detained yesterday. The boats appear to drifted into Iranian waters

“The Revolutionary Guards naval forces seized the American boats 2 km inside Iranian territorial waters while they were snooping around,” Iran’s Fars news agency said.

The crew are likely to be handed back to US naval officials later today.

Iran seizing ships that enter its territorial waters is nothing new. Back in 2007, Iranian military personnel seized 15 UK Royal Navy personnel and held them for 13 days.

More recently, on 28 April last year, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy intercepted and seized the Maersk Tigris while it was transiting through Iranian territorial waters via the Strait of Hormuz. The Marshall Islands-flagged vessel was released on May 7.

Speaking with Splash on the latest Iranian sabre rattling, Kevin Doherty, an expert on maritime security and president of American firm Nexus Consulting, said: “Commercial shipping needs to remain vigilant, if not increase situational awareness when transiting in or around Iranian waters, not just against expanded port state control intervention, but against general hostility in the area, specifically the rift between Iran and Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf cutting off diplomatic ties to Iran.”

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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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