Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
On 13 June IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim (illustrated here from www.imo.org IMO ©) condemned the suspected attacks on two tankers off the coast of Oman that occurred earlier that day.
Speaking during the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) 101st session at IMO HQ in London, Secretary-General Lim said: ‘These suspected attacks, coupled with the attacks in the UAE last month, concern me greatly. IMO has developed a comprehensive regime of regulation through the ISPS Code and the SUA Conventions and Protocols to prevent and respond to unprovoked, unlawful attacks on merchant shipping.
‘The threat to ships and their crews, peaceably going about their business, is intolerable. I urge all Member States to redouble their efforts to work together to find a lasting solution to ensure the safety and security of international shipping around the globe and protection of the marine environment.
‘I will carefully review the results of the investigation, once they are completed, to consider if additional IMO action is warranted.’
BIMCO announced the same day (13 June) that it was urging nations to defuse tension and work together through diplomatic efforts following these new attacks.
It is understood that the attacks occurred just east of the Strait of Hormuz, involving a Marshall Islands-flagged ship and a Panama-flagged ship.
In the words of Angus Frew, BIMCO Secretary General & CEO: ‘We strongly call for nations to do what they can to de-escalate tensions and ensure the safe passage of merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
‘It is unacceptable that the lives of innocent seafarers are put at risk in these unprovoked attacks.’
BIMCO represents around 60% percent of the world’s merchant fleet measured by tonnage.
Jakob P Larsen, the BIMCO Head of Maritime Security, added: ‘The increase in attacks and the escalated threat to seafarers is an urgent concern to the industry. Following the two most recent attacks, and while we await the results of the investigations of the attacks, the tension in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf is now as high as it gets without being an actual armed conflict.’
The Strait of Hormuz provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world’s most important sea lanes. Disruption of shipping through the strait will have a major impact on the oil trade and the shipping industry.
And the view from the ICS
The Board of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has expressed concern at the serious incidents involving the Marshall Islands-flagged ship Front Altair and the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous, in the Gulf of Oman.
Addressing the issue at the ICS Annual General Meeting in the Faroe Islands (13 June), the Board has expressed the international shipping industry’s alarm at recent incidents in the region affecting ships and their crews.
Gut Platten, ICS Secretary General commented: ‘This suspected attack is a deeply worrying and intolerable situation. We await further clarification and information as to what has happened but we are relieved that there appears to have been no loss of life and that the crews are reportedly safe. This is the second incident in one month and the shipping industry, and most importantly the crews, must not be exposed to such risks.
‘The Straits of Hormuz are crucial for the world economy, and any deliberate attempts to threaten traffic through them are to be condemned in the strongest terms. The situation continues to develop and we will scrutinize it closely, providing assistance to the industry to safeguard world trade and, most importantly, the lives of the men and women whose daily task it is to ensure its continued flow.’
More women are joining the maritime ranks in a variety of professions within the industry. To encourage this trend, IMO supported a training course aimed at female officials from maritime and port authorities. (See illustration here kindly provided by kind courtesy of IMO © along with valuable background material in a media briefing).
A total of 25 women from 17 developing countries took part in the two-week Women in Port Management course, hosted in Le Havre, France from 24 June to 5 July.
This course covered lectures on port management, port security, the marine environment, facilitation of maritime traffic, marketing, port logistics and other topics. Participants learnt about the necessary skills required to improve the management and operational efficiency of their ports.
Visits were organized to the Port of Le Havre and the Port of Rouen, giving participants the chance to experience the day-to-day operations of a port, with a view to applying this knowledge back in their respective countries.
The port management course was delivered through IMO’s Women in Maritime programme, supported by the Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China and in partnership with the Port Institute for Education and Research (IPER) and the Le Havre Port Authority. It comes as part of IMO’s ongoing and increasing efforts to support the UN Sustainable Development Goal No 5* to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
The Council of the IMO (see illustration here kindly provided by IMO © ) condemned recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and Sea of Oman at its meeting in London held from 15-19 July.
After debate, the IMO Council decided to condemn the attacks and expressed its concern over the grave danger to life and the serious risks to navigational safety and the environment to which such incidents may give rise. The Council also emphasised the need for flag States and ship owners and operators to review the maritime security plans for their ships and implement necessary measures to address the heighted security risk to ships operating in the Strait of Hormuz and Sea of Oman.
Addressing the IMO Council, Secretary-General Kitack Lim also emphasised his personal condemnation of the attacks, asserting that: ‘…threats to ships and their crews, peaceably going about their business in any part of the world, are intolerable.’
On 12 May 2019, Saudi Arabian-flagged vessels Amjad and Al Marzoqah, the Norwegian-flagged vessel Andrea Victory and the Emirati-flagged vessel A. Michel, were attacked off the coast near Fujairah and suffered sabotage damage, and on 13 June 2019, the Marshall Islands flag Front Altair and Panama flag Kokuka Courageous were attacked, suffering hull damage and fire, while located in the Sea of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz.