The ITF has joined in international concern after the apparent sabotaging of four oil vessels off the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Gulf of Oman. Two Saudi-owned oil tankers, Al-Marzoqah and Amjad, sustained "significant damage". A Norway-flagged tanker, Andrea Victory, and a UAE-flagged bunkering barge, the A Michel, were also apparently struck by weapons. There were no crew casualties, and no oil spills.
The incidents come at a time of growing tension in the region. The USA has recently decided to end exemptions from sanctions for major importers of Iranian oil, and has deployed warships to the region. Iran has also threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in the case of a military confrontation with the US.
Dave Heindel, chair of the ITF seafarers’ section, expressed the ITF’s concern at the escalating friction in the region. “Clearly our priority is the seafarers aboard these vessels; seafaring is challenging and dangerous enough on any given day without adding the threat of terrorism into the picture. Any risk to seafarers’ safety is of grave concern.” He said that the ITF urged all governments “to do everything possible to de-escalate the situation and assure safe navigation and the security of maritime traffic in the region”.