Middle EastOperations

US seeks international naval coalition to escort merchant ships through the Strait of Hormuz

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo yesterday called for an international coalition to shepherd ships heading through the Strait of Hormuz in the wake of six tanker attacks in and around the waterway in the last five weeks.

Speaking at US Central Command in Florida, Pompeo specifically cited China, South Korea, Indonesia and Japan as having “enormous interest” in freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz, where one fifth of the world’s oil exports flows through.

“The United States is prepared to do its part, but every nation that has a deep interest in protecting that shipping lane so that energy can move around the world and support their economies needs to make sure they understand the real threat – the real threat to their interests in the region, and the real threat to their countries’ economies if we’re not successful in doing that,” Pompeo said.

The UK is sending 100 marines to the Persian Gulf to police the Strait of Hormuz, while the US has committed another 1,000 troops to the area.

Two tankers were struck by explosive devices while in transit through the Strait of Hormuz six days ago, while a further four other tankers were hit by limpet mines while anchored off Fujairah on May 12.

Meanwhile, the insurance scene surrounding ships heading through the strait has been described today as a “rollercoaster” with the lack of consistency irking owners.

Speaking with Splash from Hong Kong, Andrew Brooker, founding partner of insurance specialists Latitude Brokers, said: “The market dramatically moved up immediately post the attacks on Thursday, which is hardly surprising, but it’s starting to calm down now even though the range of prices across the market is substantial, and this is the big problem – a lack of consistency.”

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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