BERLIN — Governments and maritime agencies urged an abundance of caution Thursday for ships operating in the Persian Gulf region after two oil tankers were damaged in suspected attacks near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.Though details of the suspected attack on the ships in the Gulf of Oman of the coast of Iran were still vague, the incident comes amid growing friction between Washington and Tehran in an area already fraught with tension.“The shipping industry views this as an escalation of the situation, and we are just about as close to a conflict without there being an actual armed conflict, so the tensions are very high,” said Jakob P. Larsen, the head of maritime security for the shipping association BIMCO, which represents some 60 per cent of the world’s merchant fleet, including owners of the two damaged tankers.The vessels involved have been identified as the MT Front Altair, a Marshall Islands-flagged crude oil tanker owned by Norway-based Frontline, and Kokuka Courageous, managed by a Singapore company.Norway’s Foreign Ministry said it “is concerned about the situation in Oman Bay” and “this type of incident further increases tension in the region.”In a statement, the ministry referred to advice from the Shipowners’ Association and the Norwegian Maritime Authority about sailing in the area. The Norwegian Maritime Authority had earlier issued a warning to the country’s merchant fleet, advising ships to “exercise high care and alertness in the region.”“Although there is no full clarity in the background for these attacks, the Norwegian Maritime Directorate’s advice is to keep a good distance to Iranian waters based on today’s event,” the agency said in a statement.The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British navy, put out an alert early Thursday urging “extreme caution” after the incident.“We are deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Gulf of Oman,” the agency said. “We are in contact with local authorities and partners in the region.”The Strait of Hormuz is the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the ocean, however, making it one of the world’s most important sea lanes.Larsen said past experience is that even with increased danger, commercial shipping will continue to use the route.“Shippers will be cautious with taking their ships into the region, but as we’ve seen many times before when the risks are high, so are the rewards, so I think shippers will continue their trade,” he said in a telephone interview from London, where he was attending a meeting of the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee.“You may some sort of naval co-operation and guidance to shipping being set up which will render protection to shipping through the area, but it will depend on what the investigation shows.”___Gregory Katz in London and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen contributed to this report.David Rising, The Associated Press
Mr Caring, also a friend of Tony Blair, has been a major donor to both Labour and Tories and enjoys “non-dom” tax status due to his late father having been a US citizen.He met former model Jacqui, the daughter of a retired British Army major, after meeting her at a catwalk show.She gave up her modelling career three days after they were introduced and the pair went on to have two sons – Jamie, a vice-president of MTV Networks Europe, and Ben, who works for Soho House.Jacqui is still living in their north London home – dubbed ‘The Versailles of Hampstead’.Surrounded by ornamental gardens and high security fences, it has a 55ft ballroom, a private cinema, gilt and marble staircases and paintings by Degas and Matisse are hung on the walls.Lawyers told The Sun that Jacqui could be entitled to half his money.His spokesman said of the split: “No comment.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.