The U.K. reportedly will send 100 Royal Marines and the U.S. will “guarantee freedom of navigation throughout the strait,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
Both tankers that were damaged in suspected attacks last week in the Gulf of Oman have arrived at anchorage at Kalba in the United Arab Emirates.
Damage assessment on the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous and preparation for the ship-to-ship cargo transfer will commence once the port authorities have completed their security checks and formalities, ship manager Berhnhard Schulte Shipmanagement said Sunday in an announcement. The Front Altair arrived Monday morning, a spokesperson for Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., the salvor appointed to both tankers, told American Shipper Monday.
No hot spots were found on the Front Altair during first inspections by a specialized salvage and inspection crew and a decision on ship-to-ship transfer of the naphtha cargo will be determined following a full assessment of the ship’s condition, said Front Altair owner Frontline on Sunday.
“The key damage is the breach to one of the naphtha tanks on the starboard side,” the Boskalis spokesperson said of the Front Altair. “Currently, the next step is that before the ship-to-ship transfer of the naphtha can commence, the hole … in the tank needs to be patched, and before that can happen there’s … an inspection to take place by authorities to ascertain the damage and the cause, et cetera.”
The 23 crew members of the Front Altair, who had been picked up by Iranian boats, arrived in Dubai on Saturday, the shipowner said. Kokuka Courageous’ 21 crew members remained on the vessel Sunday, the ship manager said, after they were returned to the ship by the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
The United States has blamed the suspected attacks on Iran, which has denied involvement. The U.S. Central Command released images last week it said showed a “likely limpet mine” on the Kokuka Courageous and a video it said showed an Iranian patrol boat approach the vessel and remove an unexploded mine from the ship.
Yutaka Katada, president of the tanker’s operator Kokuka Sangyo, said the crew reported the ship was attacked by a flying object.
Frontline Management CEO Robert Hvide Macleod said in a statement released Sunday that the company “stopped some of its vessels in the area and only re-commenced trading once increased security was in place.”
A Frontline spokesperson told American Shipper, “They weren’t stopped for very long. It was just until everyone was comfortable with the security situation. … Everybody just had to make sure everything was all right, security’s in place.”
Macleod said crews should be “on high alert while making any passage” of the Strait of Hormuz, through which more than one-third of the world’s oil supplies shipped by seas passes, and that BMP5 security measures “be fully engaged.”
BMP5 is the fifth edition of the Best Management Practices published in June 2018 that outlines protective measures while transiting the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.
“The safety of our crews and ships is paramount and we must all be extremely vigilant,” he said. “The general area of the strait of Hormuz represents a real and very serious risk to shipping. Ships must continue to passage the area, but all precautions must be put in place.”
The U.K.’s Royal Navy is reportedly set to send 100 Royal Marines to the Gulf to protect British ships, according to The Sunday Times. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday the U.S. will “guarantee freedom of navigation throughout the strait.”
“The United States is going to make sure we take all action necessary, diplomatic and otherwise, that achieve that outcome,” he said on Fox News Sunday.
Cleaves Securities’ weekly report released Saturday reported VLCC spot rates from the Arabian Gulf “surged 85% to $21,288 from Wednesday to Friday.”