Oil tankers continue to flow through Straits of Hormuz despite the ten-week old Iraq-Iran conflict, although the volume of traffic has been reduced.
GV AERIAL PAN Cost of Oman and Straits of Hormuz
SV AND GV Oman naval patrol boat preparing to cast off from Goat Island for patrol of Straits of Hormuz (2 shots)
SV Captain of patrol boat, Lt. Ian Shea of Britain
GV Patrol boat leaves harbour as naval officer looks through binoculars at other patrol boat (3 shots)
GV Small vessel passes through the narrow Straits
GV Patrol boat with cargo boat in background passing through Straits (2 shots)
GV Radar scanner on naval boat
GV Cargo ship passing through Straits, patrol boat signalling with flags (3 shots)
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Background: Oil tankers continue to flow through Straits of Hormuz despite the ten-week old Iraq-Iran conflict, although the volume of traffic has been reduced. Patrol boats belonging to the Omani defence force keep a close watch on shipping, as the opening to the Straits lies in Oman's territorial waters.
Only 35 miles (50 kilometres) of water across the Straits of Hormuz separates Ian and Oman. Two Omani patrol boats are on constant watch to keep the gulf's narrowest channel of water free from outside interference.
More than 60 per cent of Gulf oil destined for Western Europe goes through the Straits, as well as other merchant shipping. At the start of the Iranian-Iraqi conflict, Iran declared its half of the Gulf a war zone and ordered foreign ships to keep out. It also warned Gulf States that they would face grave consequences if they were to aid Iraq. But, so far, no foreign ship has been challenged in the Gulf.
Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said has modernised the naval base at the entrance to the Gulf and arranged for patrol boats and Anglo-French Jaguar fighters to guard the area. But Oman has no mine-sweepers or mine-hunters. The nearest mine-sweepers are those of the Indian Navy based in Bombay, although America, France and Britain all have naval forces in the Indian Ocean which could act if Iranian or Iraqi gunboats tried to close the Straits. However, any international assistance would have to be subject to Omani permission, since it has undisputed legal jurisdiction over the entrance to the waterway.