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Government Orders Ships in Persian Gulf to Stay out of Ports

Government Orders Ships in Persian Gulf to Stay out of Ports

Posted July. 11, 2004 22:13,   


As the government received information that Iraqi terrorists will target Korean ships, it ordered local shipping companies whose ships are now mooring in the Persian Gulf to refrain from going ashore.

The companies have said, however, in that no preventive measure short of arming ships and being accompanied by warships will protect them.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said it ordered nine ships either mooring or running in the Persian Gulf to consolidate their security and forego disembarkment.

The ministry also asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to address the situation through Korean embassies located in the Middle East region and to maintain a channel of communication with them for the protection of Korean ships.

In addition, the ministry is handing the July and August shipping schedules for this area to the Foreign Ministry so the embassies can refer to it.

Chung Sang-ho, director of the Shipping Logistics Bureau in the ministry, said, “Even though we have found no evidence of pending terrorist attacks, we are preparing ourselves for all possibilities,” adding, “Since we received the information just now, we are not considering stopping the running of energy transporting vessels in the region.”

According to an antiterrorism special team in the ministry, as of yesterday five ships from four companies, Hyundai Merchant Marine, LG-Caltex Oil, SK Shipping and Pan Ocean Shipping, had anchored in the waters off Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Yemen. The other four ships are running in the Persian Gulf.

Among the five ships at anchor, three are oil tankers transporting crude oil and petroleum products, and the other two are bulk ships.

As of the end of June the number of ships running in the Middle East region is 49, including 30 oil tankers, 11 liquid natural gas carriers, two liquid petroleum gas carriers, and six container ships.

Park Yong-moon, head of the Shipping Logistics Department, said, “Merchant ships are not able to protect themselves from suicide attacks by small ships,” adding, “Once an emergent situation arises, we will come up with proper measures in consultation with relevant ministries, while referring to 1991’s Gulf War when American fleet escorted merchant ships."

Meanwhile, shipping companies are notching up the security level, but they also expressed their concerns over economic losses caused by this row, which is likely to decrease the credibility of Korean ships in the international community.

One officer from a shipping company who asked not to be named said, “We are highly likely to lose in price competition, because clients are likely to hesitate making deals with us, and premium increases will ensue as well."

Ji-Wan Cha cha@donga.com