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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cargo ship CMA CGM Tigris fired at and taken to Bandar Abbas by Iran

The Strait of Hormuz  is a strait between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. It is the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world's most strategically important choke points. On the north coast is Iran, and on the south coast is the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman.

It is in news ~ the  Iranian military on Tuesday seized a Western cargo ship in the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon said;   the  Pentagon said the Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris did not have any U.S. citizens aboard and was travelling through the Strait of Hormuz when the confrontation occurred.  Al Arabiya, the Saudi news network, initially reported that a U.S. vessel has been fired on and steered to the Bandar Abbas port by Iran. Iran's Fars News Agency also reported that an "American trade vessel" had been confiscated. The Pentagon said it was reviewing its U.S. defense obligations to the Marshall Islands after the seizure. It also called the Iranian firing of warning shots at the ship "inappropriate."

Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the cargo ship’s master had initially refused an Iranian order to move further into Iranian waters, but after the warning shots were fired the MV Maersk Tigris complied. Warren said the cargo ship has been boarded by Iranians, but no one has been injured and no Americans are involved. Warren said the cargo ship issued a distress call and the US Naval Forces Central Command, based in the area, sent a US destroyer and an aircraft to the area of the incident to monitor the situation.

According to a report in Tehran’s semi-official Fars news agency, the Iranian Navy “confiscated the American trade vessel” because it was “trespassing” in Iran’s territorial waters.   Initially, it was reported that  the ship was US-flagged, but it later emerged Maersk Tigris is registered in Marshall Islands   - it is a brand new 52,600-ton container ship,  built in 2014;  managed by Singapore-based Rickmers Ship Management, which is part of Hamburg-based Rickmers Group.

According to the ship-tracking site MarineTraffic.com, the 52,600-ton cargo vessel, which was built last year, departed from Ambarli, Turkey April 8 en route to Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates.  Going by the map, it is stated that it abruptly changed course in the Strait of Hormuz this morning and was heading to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

Strait of Hormuz -  at its narrowest, the strait is 21 nautical miles (39 km) wide.  To reduce the risk of collision, ships moving through the Strait follow a Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS): inbound ships use one lane, outbound ships another, each lane being two miles wide. The lanes are separated by a two-mile-wide "median".   To traverse the Strait, ships pass through the territorial waters of Iran and Oman under the transit passage provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Oman has a radar site Link Quality Indicator (LQI) to monitor the TSS in the Strait of Hormuz. This site is on a small island on the peak of Musandam Peninsula.

Twenty percent of oil traded worldwide moves by tanker through the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important petroleum transit choke point. In 2011, Saudi Arabia led six Persian Gulf nations in exporting 16 million barrels per day of crude oil through the 2-mile-wide (3.2-kilometer-wide) shipping lane.

In military strategy, a choke point (or chokepoint) is a geographical feature on land such as a valley, defile or a bridge, or at sea such as a strait which an armed force is forced to pass, sometimes on a substantially narrower front, and therefore greatly decreasing its combat power, in order to reach its objective. A choke point can allow a numerically inferior defending force to successfully thwart a larger opponent if the attacker cannot bring superior numbers to bear.  With Houthi rebels taking over parts of Aden, the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb, has potential of becoming disrupted. The biggest threat is that Iran may become threatened from this attack and the Strait of Hormuz will become disrupted, lowering the potential supply of oil to the world markets.   With around 17 million barrels of oil moving through the Strait of Hormuz per day, a blockage in the strait could prove to disrupt the supply of world oil.

~ and that is not good news for most  Nations dependent on oil from Arabian gulf !!!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

28th Apr 2015 @ 09.35 pm.
Source : CNBC; dailymail.co.uk and timesofisrael.com

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