Following Iranian troops seizing the 15,000 TEU vessel MSC Aries in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, industry experts are concerned that the whole Middle East region could become a no-go zone for shipping.

The ship was seized as part of the first direct action by Iran during the conflict, with earlier attacks on shipping being carried out by Iranian linked groups, such as the Houthi Rebels, rather than the country’s military. These previous attacks have been largely limited to the surrounding areas of Yemen – the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The Strait of Hormuz is a 50-100km wide channel between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran, which links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf Of Oman. Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE rely on it for ocean freight access to the rest of the world, and if the threat escalates then we could see carriers needing to avoid the area altogether.

The MSC Aries is still under the control of the Iranians, which includes its 25 crew members.

Meanwhile, Somalian Pirates have also been stepping up efforts to hijack commercial shipping. The country borders the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, and has witnessed more than a dozen hijacking attempts since November.

One successful attempt last month is believed to have resulted in a $5m ransom being paid for the bulk carrier Abdullah in the last few days.

The Westbound team are monitoring the situation closely. Should you require any further information, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you have any questions regarding the above, then Westbound are here to help. So, please do not hesitate to contact us.