European forces patrolling Strait of Hormuz, Middle East Gulf

The group monitored the seizure of a tanker in April.

The eight-member European security mission to the Strait of Hormuz criss-crossed the waterway more than 20 times in March and April in its effort to ensure freedom of navigation in the region.

European-led Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz, or EMASOH, disclosed the figure this week and noted it monitored the detention of the 22,400-dwt tanker SC Taipei (built 2000) on the 14 April.

“For the coming months, EMASOH assets will continue to navigate the area, sail the [Middle East] Gulf and cross the Strait of Hormuz,” the group said.

“We will maintain our peaceful surveillance and monitor all events that occur in the area.”

The group, organised by France, based in Abu Dhabi and joined by Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal, was launched in the wake of last year’s tanker attacks allegedly carried out by Iran.

The Islamic republic also was said to have been the perpetrator of the SC Taipei’s seizure last month.

The tanker was said to have been boarded 20 nautical miles (37km) off the Iranian coast by armed men and taken into Iran’s territorial waters. It was held for several hours before being released.

As TradeWinds reported at the time, the SC Taipei was one of three dozen vessels connected to Aoxing Ship Management Shanghai, which was sanctioned by the US government in March over alleged dealings with Iran’s oil industry.

Aircraft surveillance

The EMASOH said one of its naval assets and an aircraft were used to assess and monitor the situation.

“Upon their arrival, action in progress was well monitored and assets remained in the vicinity until the SC Taipei was back, safe and secure, in international waters,” the group said.

The EMASOH is one of two multinational groups in the region, alongside the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), led by the US, with the UK, Australia, Albania, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Lithuania and the United Arab Emirates as members.

The European group said it was working in conjunction with the IMSC and the independent missions sent by Japan and South Korea.

Tensions in the region have been high since 2018 when the US withdrew from a multilateral deal reached in 2015. Then, Iran agreed to scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for the US, UK, Germany, France, China and Russia removing sanctions.

Source: TradeWinds