With the latest escalation in interference by Iran of British-registered oil tankers underway on their lawful occasions, some are quite rightly suggesting the convoy system should be implemented.

Not a bad suggestion at that.

But looking into the set up for protecting our shipping under such a system we find it is not as straight forward as one might think. Firstly, at present tankers are sailing independently as the companies that operate vary from vessel to vessel. To form a convoy of at the least 12 tankers, I say this as up to 30 such ships a day are sailing in the area of the Persian Gulf, for safety reasons of navigation, shepherding by escort ships, of which it would require a minimum of four per convoy, and station keeping very large crude carriers in equidistant positioning by both day and night. The old rule that the speed of a convoy must be that of the slowest ship could cause the time taken to reach home port and deliver the product,push up the price.

The basic main problem is to get all these ships to form up in convoy,holding up sailing for the ships ready and fully

loaded, making them wait for others to join them, for a whole day or so.

Of course each ship would have to hold his place throughout the voyage, so as not to break convoy integrity, unless told to do so by the escorting warships. Anyway once clear of the zone of threat, each would be free to sail independently, to achieve this the convoy would have to Star, (spread out) and this is where collisions could occur if not entirely controlled by the shepherding escorts.

Summing up, the complexity of getting shipping companies to comply with the necessary orders to make this a safe and also economic answer to the current problems in the somewhat narrow parts of the Persian Gulf is quite understandable.