Iranian patrol craft departs area after vessels from UAE come to cargo ship’s aid
Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces fired warning shots at a Singapore-flagged commercial ship in the Gulf on Thursday, before vessels from the United Arab Emirates came to its aid, US officials said.
The Iranian patrol craft fired across the bow of the Alpine Eternity in international waters and the commercial ship then headed towards the UAE, two defence officials told AFP.
The Alpine Eternity issued a radio call for help to the UAE and the Iranian boats fired a second wave of warning shots, the officials said.
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Maritime Security News:
Aggression by Iranian patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf is nothing new, of course, as the crew of the MT Album can attest after having shots fired at them in March last year. What is new, however, is the rate at which these incidents are occurring – three in as many weeks – and the fact that commercial dispute settlement now appears to be the domain of the Iranian armed forces. If the reports are to believed, then there is something of a power struggle going on between Revolutionary Guard hard liners and the President of Iran and other, milder elements within Iran’s political elite.
What does it mean for international shipping? Well, we may well see insurance premiums rise once again for vessels transiting the region. The US Navy is already talking about a more visible presence there (they’re not short of ships in the region after all) and a further increase in tensions as the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen’s Houthis continue their push.
None of it bodes well for regional security or safety at sea.