Global seafarers’ unions have expressed concern about the suspected 'sabotage' of four commercial ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and the rising political tensions in the Gulf.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway are investigating the attacks, which also hit a UAE- and a Norwegian-flagged vessel, according to Reuters.
The attack on Sunday May 12 caused damage to four vessels – including Saudi oil tankers Al-Marzoqah and Amjad, the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory, and a UAE bunkering barge, the A Michel – anchored at one of the world's largest bunkering hubs near Fujairah.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation seafarers’ unions from around the world met in Genoa, Italy, last week to discuss the issues facing seafarers globally.
'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,' said Dave Heindel, chair of ITF Seafarers’ section.
'Seafarers’ unions from across the world have 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,' he said.
Nautilus members are urged to notify the Union should they experience problems related to safety of maritime traffic in the Gulf to enable it to assist if necessary.
The UK's Warlike Operations Area Committee (WOAC), which considers at risk areas and potential responses to them, is due to meet shortly. Safety of maritime transportation in the Gulf is expected to be discussed. WOAC is a joint initiative of the UK Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus and RMT unions.
The Chamber is closely monitoring the situation and is communication with Government, policy advisor Robert Carington said.
The latest security notice from the Department for Transport and Foreign & Commonwealth Office urged crew transiting the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz to brief the Bridge Watch on the need to be particularly vigilant for any potential suspicious activity, either at sea, at anchorages, or in port facilities.
Nautilus has an agreement with the Dutch ship owner community, which gives both parties the right to call for a meeting to discuss dangerous areas when and where needed.