Two groups representing tanker owners and operators have warned members to upgrade maritime security when transiting the Middle East, following the escalation of violence and rising political tensions in the Gulf.
Owners group Intertanko and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) urged tanker operators to review their safety procedures and Ship’s Security Plan.
Tanker operators were encouraged to maintain a full and vigilant bridge watch for vessels at anchor, introduce deck patrols and waterborne security patrols where necessary.
Additional measures that tanker operators could take if alert to suspicious activity includes rotating the propeller continuously or at short, irregular intervals to warn off attackers, operating the bow and stern thrusters at zero thrust, and switching the echo sounder to transmit counter/combat swimmer/diver threat.
The Joint War Committee (JWC) of the London marine insurance market recently extended its list of waters deemed as high risk to include Oman, the UAE and the Persian Gulf.
Unions have called for assurances over seafarer safety when asked to transit the Middle East area.
Four commercial ships were attacked on Sunday May 12 off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. The vessels were anchored at one of the world's largest bunkering hubs near Fujairah. Vessels include Saudi oil tankers Al-Marzoqah and Amjad, the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory, and a UAE bunkering barge, the A Michel.
Nautilus has sought safety reassurances from the UK's Warlike Operations Area Committee (WOAC), which considers at risk areas and potential responses to them. WOAC is a joint initiative of the UK Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus and RMT unions.
Nautilus members are urged to notify the Union should they experience problems related to safety of maritime traffic in the Gulf to enable it to assist if necessary.