US-flagged vessels told to give advance notice of Persian Gulf sailings

US-flagged commercial vessels have been told that they should send their travel plans in advance to US and UK naval authorities if they intend to sail in the waters of the Persian Gulf.

The US has increased its military forces in the region, stating that Iran was responsible Iran for explosions on several tankers near the Strait of Hormuz in July and June.

MARAD said last week that “heightened military activity and increased political tensions in this region continue to pose serious threats to commercial vessels. Associated with these threats is a potential for miscalculation or misidentification that could lead to aggressive actions”.

Ships were told that they should also inform the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and the UK Maritime Trade Operations in the event of any incident or suspicious activity. It also warned they could face interference to their GPS, with at least two incidents of spoofed communications involving commercial vessels and Iran since May 2019, where vessels were falsely told that the sender of information was US military.

Crews were advised to decline Iranian forces permission to board, but said that they should not forcibly resist any boarding party.

Iran’s Defence Minister Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency that “the maritime coalition that US is trying to form will create more instability and insecurity”.

Meanwhile, P&O Cruises said that it had cancelled cruises around Dubai and the Gulf because of the increased tensions.