UPDATE: The UK has enacted a convoy system for UK-flagged vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz. Vessels must report their position (see details below) and will be escorted by HMS Montrose.
Stena Bulk reports that it has made direct contact with the Master and crew of the MR2 product tanker Stena Impero. It appears the Iranian investigation into the “incident” is ongoing. Meanwhile the UK and USA are preparing their own responses to the latest interference in the Straits of Hormuz
Stena Impero is a UK-flagged vessel and the UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt told the House of Commons that the Iranian charge d’affaires from its London embassy was summoned to “receive a formal protest”.
The UK Government has also raised the security level for UK-flagged ships to Security Level 3 and advised against passage through the Straits of Hormuz. This will have implications for insurance and charter parties, as explained by Tatham & Co partner Stephen Askins.
A more robust response is being formulated, with Germany and France looking to develop a maritime protection mission.
The US has formulated its own response called Operation Sentinel. Navies of flagged commercial vessels are now able to report their own escort operations to US Navy Central Command (USNAVCENT) to promote: “maritime stability, ensure safe passage, and de-escalate tensions in international waters throughout the [Middle East] Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Oman… co-ordinate with allies and partners in Europe, Asia and the Middle East on the details and capabilities required for Operation Sentinel to enable freedom of navigation in the region and protect vital shipping lanes.”
The aim appears to be to bring together as much information as possible on which navies are escorting which ships and is seen as a prelude to formal tanker convoys.
In addition, the North of England P&I Club has issued a circular reminding shipping of the joint guidance issued by BIMCO, ICS, Intertanko and OCIMF for vessels transiting the Middle East Gulf, Straits of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman. This advises: