Strait of Hormuz - Shipowners call for restraint

Aug 02 2019

Following the seizure of the ‘Stena Impero’ on 19th July, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) and the Asian Shipowners' Association (ASA) urged immediate action to stop the escalation of tensions and fully respect international law.

All countries should ensure the safe passage of merchant vessels, by respecting the Freedom of Navigation enshrined in Article 87(1)a and the Right of Innocent Passage defined in Article 19 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), they said in a joint statement.

"Freedom of Navigation is vital for global trade and is a fundamental principle of international maritime law. Seafarers and ships must be allowed to operate in safety, and it is simply not acceptable for them to be used as bargaining counters in any way,” said Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General.

"Merchant vessels engaged in international trade should not be subject to unlawful seizures or armed attacks. The Strait of Hormuz is an important route for European merchant vessels and we strongly urge EU member states to work with Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in order to safeguard this vital passageway," added ECSA Secretary General, Martin Dorsman.

“The Strait of Hormuz is the only route in and out of the Gulf, and one of the critical shipping lanes for Asian countries that also connects Europe and Asia. We therefore urge all countries to completely secure the safe passage by respecting the freedom of navigation and the right of innocent passage as enshrined in the UNCLOS, and to push for a complete de-escalation of tensions in the region." said Ang Chin Eng, ASA Secretary General.

The ‘Stena Impero’ is a British flagged vessel, owned by a Swedish company with a multi-national crew, and appears to have been detained illegally while transiting an international strait. The situation therefore requires a diplomatic solution in order for business to return to normal as soon as possible.

ICS, ECSA and ASA further said that they will continue to work with all relevant authorities to ensure the safety of merchant shipping in the region.

The ‘Stena Impero’ and ‘Grace 1’ situations appear to be at something of an impasse.

In a statement issued during the middle of this week, Stena Bulk said that Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management were increasingly concerned for the welfare of the crew who are confined to the vessel.

Erik Hanell, President and CEO, Stena Bulk said: “With little progress being made since the vessel was seized on 19th July, we urge governments involved to find a swift resolution so our 23 valued seafarers can return to their families and move on from this ordeal.

“We reiterate that there is no evidence of a collision involving the ‘Stena Impero’, and at the time of the seizure the vessel was well within the inbound traffic separation scheme and out of Iranian territorial waters, “ he said. “All required navigational equipment, including transponders, was fully functioning, in compliance with maritime regulations.”

Meanwhile, Qatari representatives arrived in Iran to try to calm the situation. A closure of the Strait of Hormuz would have a devastating affect on the country’s huge LNG exports, as it would on Saudi’s oil exports.

There are also several governments considering a naval presence in the area, including South Korea, which relies on MEG oil. A second UK warship has arrived on site to escort vessels through the Strait.

Two British companies, BP and Shell, have said that they have stopped of their UK flag ships from transiting the straits.

BP said earlier this week that it was shipping oil out of the region using chartered tankers.


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Jul-Aug 19

Greece, alarm fatigue, Fujairah explosions, scrubbers, tank cleaning