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TWIN attacks on tanker vessels near the Strait of Hormuz are cause for added protection for commercial ships in the region, labour groups say.

Marine tankers, the Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair and the Panamanian-flagged Kokuka Courageous had to be abandoned last week after apparent attacks on the ships while transiting the Gulf of Oman.

The US blamed Iran for the incidents, but Iran has issued a full denial.

ITF Seafarers’ section chair David Heindel said it was fortunate only one crew member was injured and there were no serious casualties.

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“We also urge the naval forces to extend their protection to all ships transiting the area and call for a political solution to ensure seafarers and ships’ safe passage,” Mr Heindel said.

“Luckily the 44 seafarers were rescued, and no lives were lost.

“We commend all involved in the prompt intervention and rescue of the 44 seafarers, but we have grave concerns over the safety of the ships transiting in this area.”

Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Group (an entity representing employers and unions) chairman Captain Koichi Akamine said he was relieved there had been no loss of life.

“We are quite concerned about these incidents and we’re following the situation closely, however, it would be unwise to come to any premature conclusions before receiving more information on these incidents from reliable sources,” Mr Akamine said.

“In the meantime, we would advise all vessels transiting the Straits of Hormuz and operating there to follow safe transiting procedures, increase vigilance, implement security measures ISPS Level 2 equivalent, report all incidents and take extra care of the crew and cargo.”

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