Turn For The Worst For Middle East Shipping

April 16, 2024

 

Shipping in the Middle East took a turn for the worst at the weekend, when Iranian troops boarded the containership ‘MSC Aries’ and seized it shortly after it had left Dubai.

Naturally, the weekend’s dramatic escalation of hostilities between Iran and Israel will be of more concern to world leaders, but the 15,000 TEU ship’s seizure marked the first attack on commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and the first by Iranian military.

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow sea channel that links the Persian Gulf with the Gulf Of Oman and separates the United Arab Emirates and Iran. It is critical to global shipping, as it provides the only access to ports in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE.

Until now, targeting of vessels had been limited to routes near Yemen, such as the Red Sea and Gulf Of Aden, where Iranian linked Houthi Rebels have launched their drone and missile attacks from occupied parts of the country.

However, if attacks were to escalate in the Persian Gulf region, then it will be difficult to see how carriers can safely serve any ports within the Middle East.

There is also the issue that Somali pirate attacks have been increasing during the past 6 months, with over a dozen incidents reported since November and one bulk carrier understood to be the subject of a recent $5 million ransom settlement. Somalia’s coastline is on both the Indian Ocean and the Gulf Of Aden.

Currently, the ‘MSC Aries’, along with its 25 man crew, is still understood to be under Iranian military control. Hopefully, there will be some resolution to the situation soon.

 

 

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