Flags of Convenience
The world is holding its collective breath as the Steno Impero, a Chinese built, British Flagged, owned by a Swedish Company (Steno Bulk), licensed through a Create based LLC, operated by a Scotland based operations company and with a crew that does not include a single UK citizen tanker sits in an Iranian Port, having been seized by a paramilitary group in retaliation for the British seizure of the Panamanian tanker, Grace 1, which is sitting in Gibraltar.
Got all that?
Now the UK is sending naval assets to the Persian Gulf to “show the flag” to Iran, while the US is asking other naval powers to assist us in guarding the Straights of Hormuz from what is essentially piracy by using naval force, all while reminding Teheran that we could – at any moment – wipe them off the map, but probably not before they launch whatever nefarious weapons they may or may not have at Israel, which neither owns nor flags any of the tankers involved.
So how does all this weirdness happen? Why is it so confusing?
Like most things, it started here in the United States, for reasons that will make sense to you as soon as you hear them. It – the practice of convenience flagging of ships – continues today because despite what you might intuitively think, there are advantages to having it be as totally confusing as is possible.