The threat of an attack on cruise ships by Iran off Oman or in the Strait of Hormuz is ‘moderate’, according to the Norwegian Shipowners’ Mutual War Risks Insurance Association (DNK), the world’s largest war risk insurer.
Speaking at a breakfast seminar held by Wilhelmsen Ship Management (WSM) in Singapore on Friday, Lars Benjamin Vold, senior intelligence & exercise advisor for DNK, said the threat of an ‘asymertircal attack’ was moderate for all tonnage except oil and gas tankers.
For oil and gas tankers, the threat of further attacks was ‘highly likely’, he said.
“We think it’s highly likely that they will continue to perform asymmetric attacks, similar attacks to those we’ve at Fujairah anchorage, or Front Altair and the Kokuka Courageous,” said Vold.
He was referring to several attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz during May and June this year. The attacks have been widely attributed to Iran, but Tehran has denied the allegations.
“Asymmetric attacks provide them [the Iranians] with plausible deniability, they can say ‘Ok this wasn’t us’,” Vold added in comments carried by Seatrade Middle East.
The events sent tensions between Iran and the West skyrocketing and have led P&O Cruises to cancel its upcoming cruise season in Dubai.
“The increased tension in the region highlighted by the attacks on tankers in the Straits and the detention of a British-flagged tanker by the Iranian authorities means as a British company flying the Red Ensign it is not advisable for us to maintain our planned Dubai and Arabian Gulf programme this winter season,” said P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow.
All other cruise lines homeporting in the region have said they are still planning to cruise roundtrip from Dubai, but are watching the situation closely.
“At the present time, RCL Global Security does not assess the recent maritime-related incidents in the Arabian Gulf as indicative of threats to the cruise industry,” a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean told Cruise Arabia & Africa.
“We have not received any intelligence suggesting that there is reason for our plans to be altered,” said Robin Roothans, a spokesperson for MSC.
“We always closely monitor the public safety and security situation in each of the destinations we call and areas we sail through,” he added. “In doing so, we consult with official travel advisory bodies, and are in constant contact with local and international authorities.”
The problem for cruise lines in particular is that, in addition to carrying upwards of 1,000 passengers from countries all over the world, they also have to transit the Strait of Hormuz at least twice a week on each itinerary when they call in Muscat.
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow strip of water between the coasts of Oman on the Arabian Peninsula, and Iran, and is the only waterway that provides access to the Indian Ocean from the Arabian Gulf, where eight cruise lines will be homeporting their ships for the coming cruise season.
“For now we will not make any changes to our coming Dubai season,” said a spokesperson for TUI. “Of course we are closely monitoring the events in this area. If there will be any signs of a change in the security we will act accordingly.”
Categories: Middle East Cruise News