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Friday, March 23, 2018


This week there has inevitably been much interest in the VLCC ‘Limburg’ and the events off the Yemeni coast on 6 October. It is clearly premature to comment on the incident until the investigators have completed fully their investigations, notwithstanding the apparently well-informed reports that support the probability of an external attack. Equally it would be improper to speculate on other aspects of the event. That there was a casualty in the ship’s crew is most saddening and it is also very regrettable that pollution resulted.

Not surprisingly, this incident has attracted considerable public interest, especially in Europe, and the attention of the media, which has extended well beyond the maritime press. This interest has led to many enquiries about tankers, the industry in general, the operation of tankers, their safety and the risks they face.


It has therefore been opportune to remind these parties of the essential, but generally invisible, role that tankers play to support our everyday lives and the dependence of many nations on the sea transportation of crude and oil products. The excellent safety record of tankers, the professionalism of their crews and the fact that safety and security are traditionally uppermost in the management of the cargo while under the custodianship of the tanker operator have been similarly stressed. It has also been appropriate to observe that tanker owners have continued to provide this public service in times of regional conflicts and heightened security concerns, and that if owners are prepared to offer their ships and the crews are prepared to man them it is only reasonable that they should expect the maximum support and assistance from the governments and national authorities in those countries which benefit from these trades. Additionally it has been emphasised that it is therefore especially important that, under such circumstances, shipping companies who carry this additional exposure should not be expected to also carry the burden of any unreasonable additional costs.


During previous conflicts, such as the Iran/Iraq war and the Kuwait war, independently owned tankers kept the transportation of oil running throughout these crises. Many of these civilian ships were exposed to attacks by the war-faring parties and both ships and crews were lost.


Now that we experience new threats to the tanker trades there is reason to discuss how the United Nations or national states could arrange protection for the ships trading in areas exposed to the risks of attack or sabotage.


The world economy depends on the free trade of oil. Continued transportation of oil is dependent on protection against war-like actions against civilian tankers. It is up to the world to prepare to defend its independent tanker fleet and the crews which man the ships.


Lars Carlsson, Chairman
Peter Swift, Managing Director