CARRIER WEIGHS REFLAGGING TO ENSURE GULF PROTECTION

CARRIER WEIGHS REFLAGGING TO ENSURE GULF PROTECTION

Norman International A/S, the Norwegian shipping company that owns the tanker Happy Kari, is considering transferring its ships to a British flag, either in Bermuda or Gibraltar.

The move will be taken if Norwegian authorities do not take steps soon to protect Norwegian shipping in the Persian Gulf.We are looking very seriously at the situation in the gulf, said Norman International spokesman Terje Askvik, not least since Happy Kari was attacked again, this time by a vessel that was most probably an Iranian frigate. The change to British flags on company ships would give these vessels the benefit of Royal Navy protection in the gulf.

Mr. Askvik said that most attacks on gulf shipping have been carried out by Islamic revolutionaries in small boats. However, the use of a frigate in the second attack on Happy Kari suggests an attack by Iran as a nation and a warring power.

We in the (Norwegian shipping) industry see this as being very serious, and we expect Norwegian authorities to take steps to defend Norwegian ships, said Mr. Askvik. If this does not happen, then we must seriously consider seeking protection for our vessels under a flag that can provide armed escort in the gulf.

The shipping industry in Norway is of the collective opinion that Norwegian authorities are much too apathetic toward Iranian aggression in the gulf. Norwegian shipping finds itself in the line of fire more often lately, while ships sailing under escort have been much better defended against attack.