The world’s oceans are traversed by massive ships that are the engine of global commercial activity—they carry essential goods like oil, other natural resources, and consumer goods from one destination to another. Unfortunately, it’s not always an easy journey. Environments can be unforgiving, even before harsh currents and climes, and treacherous waterways that are sometimes unavoidable. Dangers also exist in other fronts, from accidents to piracy, crime, and political instability.
This is where maritime security comes in. Owners, operators and crew do what they can to avoid danger to their equipment, manpower and cargo. But sometimes, they also have to ‘call in the big guns.’ In the case of recent incidents of tension with Iran along the vital Strait of Hormuz, the US Navy had to step in to provide US-flagged American commercial ships with an ‘escort.’ Kemplon Engineering reports.
Image “Warship Battleship Boat With Big Guns” courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The Strait of Hormuz is a vital oil supply waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to other parts of the world. It sees about 40% of the traffic in global oil tankers. Iran has always attempted to exert power and influence on the strait, which is actually considered an international waterway and in a territory covering claims by other regional players like Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
The vital and controversial strait was even the site of confrontations between the United States and Iran almost 30 years ago. What is of grave concern lately, however, are reports of Iran’s seizure and/or harassment of cargo ships on the waterway.
Late last April, Iranian forces tailed a US cargo ship. Iranian forces had also seized a Maersk-owned, Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship at gunpoint (the United States has some defense obligations to the Marshall Islands). Iran has been reported as claiming the seizure was linked to a lawsuit, but in response to what some consider to be a pattern of harassment, American naval presence was increased in the strait. The objective is to more or less ‘accompany’ US-flagged vessels by keeping communications and being nearby. Though not quite a “full escort,” it is hoped that the increased presence and proximity becomes a deterrent to harassment, and can facilitate good maritime traffic that is safer for all. This is reportedly to be regarded as a precautionary action for a limited time.
Geopolitical tensions have become unavoidable in our complex world. Unfortunately, they also impact the security of the shipping industry, and jeopardize the smooth flow of commerce. We at Kemplon Engineering hope that all stakeholders continue to pursue peaceful methods at obtaining their political goals.
^ Baldor, Lolita C. “Navy accompanies 4 ships through Strait of Hormuz.” NavyTimes.com, 01 May 2015. Web. 10 May 2015. http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2015/05/01/navy-accompanies-4-ships-through-strait-of-hormuz/26722351/
^ Fonseca, Joseph R. “USN Escort U.S. Flagged Ships in Strait of Hormuz.” MarineLink.com, 03 May 2015. Web. 10 May 2015. http://www.marinelink.com/news/flagged-escort-strait390551.aspx
^ Gladstone, Rick. “Strait of Hormuz Once Again at Center of U.S.-Iran Strife.” The New York Times, 01 May 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/02/world/middleeast/strait-of-hormuz-once-again-at-center-of-us-iran-strife.html?_r=1
^ Stewart, Phil, David Alexander and Sabina Zawadzki. “U.S. Navy starts to accompany U.S. ships passing through Strait of Hormuz.” Reuters.com, 30 Apr 2015. Web. 10 May 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/30/us-iran-usa-ship-navy-idUSKBN0NL2FE20150430
^ “U.S. Navy Begins Accompanying American Ships Through Strait of Hormuz.” gCaptain, 30 Apr 2015. Web. 10 May 2015. http://gcaptain.com/u-s-navy-accompanying-american-ships-through-strait-of-hormuz/