30 April 2015

[300415.EN.SEA] Iran Seizes Maersk Tigris, Shows It Too Can Stop, Hold Ships As Saudis Do

MAERSK's 5,466-TEU Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris has been seized after Iranian gunboats put a shot across her bow and ordered her to heave to near Bandar Abbas, reports the US Naval Institute's website USNI News.

Meanwhile, a Saudi-led coalition of naval forces has imposed arms blockade by searching ships for weapons destined for the rebels, Reuters reports.

Maersk Line told American Shipper it does not own the 2014-built ship or employ its crew, but it is time chartered from Singapore's Rickmers Shipmanagement. Equasis lists Wide Golf Ltd. as the vessel owner. That apparently is an affiliate of Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital Management.

Reuters reports Iranian forces boarded in the Gulf after patrol boats fired warning shots as it was moving through the Strait of Hormuz to Dubai from Jeddah.

The ship initially ignored Iranian patrol boats that ordered it deeper into Iranian territorial waters but complied after the vessels fired several warning shots, US Army Colonel Steve Warren said.

US forces in the region responded to distress calls from the Maersk Tigris, by sending the destroyer USS Farragut to monitor the situation along with reconnaissance aircraft. No Americans were aboard, Col Warren said.

Rickmers Shipmanagement part of Hamburg's Rickmers Group, declined to comment. The Pentagon said earlier that the Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris was boarded by Iranian forces.

Iranian warships have been active in Gulf of Oman and off the Yemen coast supposedly chasing pirates, at which their official new agencies say they have had a number of successes.

The Yemeni civil war, in which all have taken sides, pits forces loyal to ousted President, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is backed by the Saudi-led coalition of US, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan, while the Shia rebels known as Houthis, are backed by Iran.

Rebels have long ago taken the capital Sanna and have since closed in on the ousted president's southern stronghold of Aden. But a coalition led by Saudi Arabia has defended the city with air strikes on Houthi targets.

The UN Security Council has added and arms embargo that works against the rebels and Saudi-led naval forces engage in arm searches on all ships entering the Port of Aden from where comes 90 per cent of the local food supply.

Reuters reported at least five merchant ships were held up. Only two of those vessels have fully discharged so far with a third docked currently.

"Ships with wheat need to wait up to five days for permission to enter. Several seem to be delayed," a German commodities trader said.

What is often overlooked is that troops are seldom in need of weaponry if they are already supplied. Ammunition is only freely spent in pitched battles, which are rare. What active troops need and, need in abundance, is food.

Source : HKSG, 30.04.15.

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