Dubai: Another cargo ship has come under fire from Iranian authorities sending jitters through the shipping industry as the vital Strait of Hormuz becomes increasingly unstable.
According to CNN, five boats from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard opened fire in international waters on the 46,105-dwt chemical tanker Alpine Eternity this morning.
The Singapore-flagged ship only managed to escape further shots by changing course (see satellite image below courtesy of VesselsValue.com) and heading into United Arab Emirates waters where three local coast guard vessels came to protect the tanker.
None of the crew were harmed, initial reports claim. The ship is now moored at Jebel Ali port.
This is pretty clearly Iran thumbing its nose at the US and its international partners.
The US Navy announced it would escort US flagged vessels through the straits. Turns out, it wasn’t really escorting them, but coordinating with them. Even worse, that plan lasted only a week.
That sent a pretty clear signal to Iran that US policy wasn’t serious.
Iran has long made claims about its territorial waters in the straits that no nation has ever recognized, and that the US Navy for over thirty years has actively challenged. There’s a concept that deals with the concept of territorial waters (that is, the 12 nautical mile limit from the shoreline) and the narrow passages commonly used for commerce. While the US is not a signatory of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, it has always subscribed to the concept of Transit Passage, which itself is one of the oldest concepts of international law, dating back practically to antiquity.
Iran, of course, sensing weakness from the US, is acting provocatively mostly just because it can.