The current Listed Areas (areas of perceived enhanced risk) are detailed in
On 6th August, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani reportedly stated that the UK could not use the Strait of Hormuz while Iran continued to be denied passage through the Strait of Gibraltar. “Security for security, peace for peace, strait for strait. The Strait of Hormuz cannot be opened for you while Gibraltar is closed to us,” Rouhani said. This would clearly complicate the already delicate situation if acted on.
In the meantime, ship owners report a heightened level of harassment when transiting. A general threat exists to all vessels in the region and specifically to tankers transiting Hormuz.
The attempted seizure of the British Heritage and the actual seizure of the Mesdar and the Stena Impero were in clear retaliation for Gibraltar impounding the Grace 1 for breaching sanctions on Syria and demonstrated that Iranian capability extends beyond the particularly vulnerable Strait of Hormuz itself. However, the swift release of the Mesdar indicated that Iran wished to keep its actions proportionate, one for one. For the present, although a step on the escalation staircase has been ascended, the situation remains under comparative control.
Since the US withdrew from the JCPOA, tensions between the US and Iran have been raised as Iran's ability to trade its oil has been steadily eroded. The IMF have shown that restrictions on the use of the dollar or the involvement of any US person or entity has significantly impacted the Iranian economy since 2007, and the US "maximum pressure campaign" has magnified the effect.
Following the explosions at Fujairah anchorage on 12th May this year, the JWC updated the Listed Areas to reflect the perceived heightened risk across the region. Vessels trading to the Gulf are now required to notify underwriters before entering the area. Whilst there are claims and counter-claims about specific points, the insurance market is faced with multiple million dollar losses and will be keenly aware of the issues including the high number of unknowns. Underwriters are following the situation closely and will be mindful of the many variables of risk when assessing further voyages in the region.
The enmity between Iran and Saudi Arabia continues to add to the complexities in the region with the Saudis believing Iran is trying to control strategic waterways.
The situation will be kept under close review.
Vessels picking up refugees may have to divert to a different port to that originally intended; voyages may be lengthened and there are likely to be logistical and operational consequences.
Status of Libyan Ports
Situation in Yemen
Iran and Saudi Arabia are effectively in a proxy conflict. There have been several cruise missile attacks on vessels in the Bab el Mandeb.
Foreign vessels are currently forbidden from entering Yemeni waters. Yemen does not have an effective navy of their own, so the Egyptian and Saudi navies have been mandated to enforce this. There are entry procedures for vessels to enter Hodeidah or Saleef port - a completed form must be sent to the Yemen Ministry of Transport, now based in Jeddah. The system works but needs much effort from concerned parties - there may be some vessels which the coalition will decline to authorise.
The JWC's advisers, Herminius (formerly Aegis DS), are happy to take calls from members on specific issues. Lloyd's Agents office in Aden is in insurgent hands and thus closed.
On 6th September 2017, CMF Bahrain announced the implementation of a Maritime Security Transit Corridor to include the Bab-el-Mandeb.