Growing fears of terror attacks on a crucial waterway of world shipping has seen the UK deploy its most advanced warship off the coast of Yemen.
With a Teekay LNG carrier and a number of naval ships coming under attack in recent weeks and concern growing that terrorists are planning more suicide attempts in the narrow Bab al-Mandeb Strait, the HMS Daring has been sent to help commercial ships transit the area, the UK’s Times newspaper reports.
The strait links the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden.
Kevin Doherty from Nexus Consulting questioned the UK navy’s decision, suggesting it could lead to a replay of the so-called Tanker Wars of the 1980s.
“It’s a potentially dangerous move by the UK adding a warship to the area of operation,” Doherty said.
“It’s eerily reminiscent of the beginning of Operation Earnest Will aka the Tanker Wars of the 1980s in the Persian Gulf.”
Doherty warned that there is a significant risk to all ships around Yemen from rockets, and that risk seems to be indiscriminate, being fired at any ship of opportunity.
“Adding a warship certainly increases the potential for collateral/compounded damage,” Doherty said.
In the Tanker Wars, a number of US warships sustained significant damages, including the USS Stark (fired upon by ‘friendly’ Iraqi aircraft) and the USS Samuel B. Roberts, which almost sank.
“As the rocket attacks on ships around Yemen neither appear to be targeted nor fired from fixed positions there seems little a warship can do to prevent these attacks, and ultimately adds one more ship as a potential target,” Doherty concluded.
About Sam Chambers;
Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.