From time to time, the JWC updates and disseminates the Listed Areas - these are areas where owners are required to notify underwriters of voyages. Rating is a matter for individual negotiation between underwriters and brokers and the JWC plays no role in that. The Committee last reviewed the areas on 3rd June 2020 and made no changes. The current Listed Areas (areas of perceived enhanced risk) are detailed in:
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.
The recent dramatic attacks in Iraq have led to much speculation but both sides are clearly considering their next moves rather than taking immediate further action. Tensions have certainly escalated and the risk of Iranian retaliation is real. The question is what form it will take. Both sides have repeatedly stated they do not want full scale war but careful diplomacy will be needed.
Underwriters are following the situation closely and will be mindful of the many variables of risk when assessing voyages in the region.
Based on current information, JWC considers that there is no dramatic change to the strategic maritime picture. There are clearly increased tensions in the Gulf region, with American assets now referenced, but the underlying maritime threat remains heightened with an ongoing possibility of escalation.
Following the explosions at Fujairah anchorage on 12th May last 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 the potential for multiple million dollar losses and will be keenly aware of the issues including the high number of unknowns.
The direction of US foreign policy and Iranian domestic policy remain opposed and the logical consequence will be continued friction with varying levels of tension. Ship owners have reported 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 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. Despite the incremental escalation inherent in the seizures, the situation remained under comparative control.
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.