UK steps in on Strait of Hormuz security mission

Britain is stepping up to join the United States in forming a new international maritime security mission to protect commercial vessels from attacks in and around the Middle Eastern Strait of Hormuz.

A press statement issued today by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence said the Royal Navy would work alongside the US navy to “assure freedom of navigation and safe passage in the area following a recent increase in tensions between Britain and Iran”.

“Events in the Gulf over the last four months, including attacks on four tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and the illegal seizure of the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, have seen the threat to commercial shipping rise,” said UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace.

The international mission will largely draw on assets already in the region to increase inter-state maritime cooperation.

The Strait of Hormuz is the world's single most important oil passageway, forming a chokepoint between the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The 39km strait is the only route to the open ocean for over one-sixth of global oil production and one-third of the world's liquefied natural gas (LNG).

While many oil tankers continue to traverse the Strait, they are largely doing so during the day and at top speed.

CEO of Ardmore Shipping, Anthony Gurnee, was recently quoted by CNBC as saying insurance to transit the Strait of Hormuz had increased 10-fold in the last two months as a consequence of the attacks.

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