New Coalition In Gulf May Not Fare As Well As Old One – Analysis

Persian Gulf/SoH


Operational Sentinel patrols the Strait of Hormuz, yet regional rivalries and the international coalition’s makeup could escalate tensions.

By Gregory Clough and Morgan D. Bazilian*

Renewed conflict in the Strait of Hormuz pushed the United States to establish an international coalition for maritime security to ensure safe passage of shipping traffic and guarding against further disruption in oil supplies. While such security coalitions have been successful in the past, applying the same approach in the Middle East may not improve conditions and may even exacerbate tensions.

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Plymouth to host maritime cyber security research facility

Sam Chambers

A new research facility designed to address the key cyber security challenges facing the shipping industry is being established at the University of Plymouth.

The £3m Cyber-SHIP Lab, supported by funding from Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation, and industry, will bring together a host of connected maritime systems currently found on an actual ship’s bridge.

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High Court: “Pirate Attack” was Attempted Fraud

In a ruling issued Monday, the High Court of London ruled that the tanker Brillante Virtuoso was irreparably damaged not by pirates, as her owner and banker claimed, but by a group of conspirators. Justice Nigel Teare found that the owner’s claims of piracy were improbable, and he reached the “firm conclusion” that the attackers intended to destroy the vessel, that they had the assistance of the master and chief engineer as they went about the task, and that the owner orchestrated the scheme in order to defraud his insurer. 

On July 6, 2011, Brillante Virtuoso was drifting off Aden, awaiting a team of unarmed security contractors before transiting Bab el-Mandeb. A small boat approached carrying seven masked, armed men. The men informed the crew that they were “security,” and they came aboard with the master’s permission. (The disputants in the case agreed that the boarding party’s members were likely current or former Yemeni Coast Guard or Navy servicemenbers.) They ordered the crew to the day room, and escorted the master to the bridge and the chief engineer to the engine room. 

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Sailors from USS Philippine Sea rescue the crew of the Brillante Virtuoso

US eyes 55-ship surveillance mission off Iran in Nov.: source

Persian Gulf/SoH

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) — U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to form an international maritime surveillance mission involving 55 vessels in a key waterway off Iran in November, a source familiar with the plan said Thursday.

The plan came to light amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran following recent attacks on major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, an incident Washington has blamed on Tehran.

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Saudi Arabia joins maritime protection mission: state news agency

Persian Gulf/SoH

CAIRO (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has joined an international maritime mission to protect commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and other areas, Saudi state media reported on Wednesday, citing an official source in the defense ministry.

The ​​operation area for the International Maritime Security Construct covers the Strait of Hormuz, Bab al-Mandab, the Sea of ​​Oman and the Arabian Gulf, the report said.

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Iranian targeting of shipping in the Arabian Gulf ‘changes the game’ by raising risks to new levels

Insurance and shipping leaders said specific targeting of UK and US crew by Iran has left the industry to grapple with escalating tensions between Tehran and the West.

Nick Busvine, a partner at the strategic intelligence firm Herminius, told The National the drive from Tehran to take British and American hostages while targeting commercial shipping in the Arabian Gulf “changes the game” for the insurance industry.

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Iran tanker seizure: Hunt seeks European help on Gulf shipping

The foreign secretary has repeated his call for the release of a British-flagged ship and its crew detained in the Gulf by the Iranian military.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard captured the Stena Impero and its 23 crew members in the Gulf on Friday.

Jeremy Hunt told MPs it was an act of “state piracy”.

Mr Hunt said the UK would develop a maritime protection mission with other European nations to allow ships to pass through the area safely.

The foreign secretary secured support for the initiative from both French and German foreign ministers on the phone on Sunday evening, the BBC has been told.

Addressing the Commons after a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee, Mr Hunt said he spoke with a “heavy heart” but if Iran continued to act as it had, it would have to accept a “larger Western military presence” along its coastline.

The seizure of the Stena Impero in the key shipping route of the Strait of Hormuz came after Tehran said the vessel violated international maritime rules.

Iran’s state-run news agency said the tanker was captured after it collided with a fishing boat and failed to respond to calls from the smaller craft.

Mr Hunt said the ship was illegally seized in Omani waters and forced to sail into Bandar Abbas port in Iran, where it remains.

Although the crew and owners are not British, the Stena Impero carries the British flag so the UK owes protection to the vessel, maritime analysts said.

The seizure was the latest in a string of acts leading to escalating tensions between Iran and the UK and US.

Earlier this month Royal Marines helped to seize tanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar, because of evidence it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

Mr Hunt said that vessel was detained legally, but Iran said it was “piracy” and threatened to seize a British oil tanker in retaliation.

In a statement to MPs in the Commons, Mr Hunt said the UK would seek to create a European-led mission to ensure safe passage of international vessels in the Gulf.

“Freedom of navigation is a vital interest of every nation,” he said.

US Central Command said it was developing a multinational maritime effort in response to the situation.

But the UK’s protection mission would not include the US because, Mr Hunt insisted, Britain was not part of President Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” on Tehran.

The initiative would build on existing structures in the region such as the US Navy-led Combined Task Force 150, the BBC has learned.

Instead of focusing on tackling terrorism and the illegal drugs trade like the Combined Task Force 150, the new scheme would have a mandate to ensure freedom of navigation of international ships, the Foreign Office explained.

The mission would be implemented “as quickly as possible” but in the meantime the destroyer HMS Duncan has been sent to help keep British ships and crews safe in the region, Mr Hunt told the Commons.

Mr Hunt said the UK had sought to de-escalate the situation but there would be “no compromise” on freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.

Bob Sanguinetti, CEO of the UK Chamber of Shipping, welcomed the announcement of the mission but said it was “imperative” the government protected British-flagged ships in the Gulf in the meantime.

Mr Hunt encouraged commercial shipping companies in the region to follow advice issued by the Department for Transport to help reduce “risks of piracy”, because it was “not possible for the Royal Navy to provide escorts for every single ship”.