Incident in the Gulf of Oman
While the cause of the incidents that took place in the Gulf of Oman on 13 June 2019 has not been confirmed, all vessels, and tankers in particular, are advised to operate with a heightened level of security in the Gulf of Oman/Strait of Hormuz/Persian Gulf region.
On 13 June 2019, two tankers suffered explosion incidents in the Gulf of Oman causing major damage to the vessels. Both vessels have been abandoned by the crew.
Some reports indicate that the type and extent of damage experienced by the two vessels could be the result of anti-ship missiles. This may be strengthened by the findings of the investigation into the attacks on four oil tankers that took place on the morning of 12 May 2019 off the port of Fujairah. According to a press release of 6 June 2019, preliminary findings from that investigation indicate that the Fujairah attacks were caused by limpet mines placed on the vessels by divers as “part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation carried out by an actor with significant operational capacity, most likely a state actor.”
Assessment of threats
According to a recent intelligence report issued by the Norwegian Shipowner’s Mutual War Risk Insurance Association (DNK):
-The threat towards tankers and other oil and gas related shipping assets operating in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and North Western Gulf of Oman, is currently assessed as HIGH.
-The threat towards remaining categories of merchant vessels operating in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and North Western Gulf of Oman, is currently assessed as MODERATE.
We advise ship operators and their masters to exercise extreme caution when operating in the Gulf of Oman/Strait of Hormuz/Persian Gulf region and to:
-undertake a new ship and voyage specific threat risk assessment before entering any region where there has been an incident, or the threat level has changed;
-keep well clear of Iranian territorial waters; and
-stay in close contact with ship’s agent and other local sources to obtain the most up to date and reliable information available at any given time.
Some Flag Administrations may require a heightened security level for the Gulf of Oman/ Strait of Hormuz/Persian Gulf region, meaning that ships must implement additional protective measures in accordance with the formal Ship Security Plan (SSP). As an example, the Norwegian Maritime Authorities on 13 June 2019 instructed Norwegian ships arriving Strait of Hormuz within the boundaries of N25° – N28° and E054° – E058° to implement security measures as described in their SSP according to ISPS/MarSec level #2.