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An easy target? Modes of state actors attacks against oil tankers


[ 1 ] Wydział Bezpieczeństwa Narodowego, Akademia Sztuki Wojennej | [ D ] phd student

Year of publication


Published in

Security and Defence Quarterly

Journal year: 2020 | Journal volume: vol. 28 | Journal number: no. 1

Article type

scientific article

Publication language


  • Bezpieczeństwo energetyczne państwa
  • Energy security of the state

EN There was a huge reaction to the attacks that took place in the Gulf of Oman in May and June 2019 but, in fact, attacks on oil tankers are a century old problem. Oil tankers appear to be easy targets because of their size and cargo. The main objective of this paper is to analyse the effectiveness of different types of attack on oil tankers that have been undertaken since widespread use of oil began. A comparative case-study approach was adopted to evaluate the effectiveness of different types of attack on oil tankers over the long-term, namely the last century. It briefly reviews the destructiveness of three anti-tanker campaigns during the two World Wars. They are subsequently compared with two post-1945 sets of attacks in the Persian Gulf region – the Tanker War of the 1980s and the 2019 attacks. The scale of damages inflicted by attacks on oil tankers is varied. The experience of both World Wars shows their effectiveness. However, post-1945 events do not provide confirmatory evidence. The main difference is the scale of hostile activities. It is not the characteristics of tankers that make them easy targets but political conditions (war/peace state of international system) that enable the application of weapons and tactics that bring about a different scale of destruction

Date of online publication


Pages (from - to)

54 - 69





Bibliografia na stronach 67-69.

License type

CC BY-NC-ND (attribution - noncommercial - no derivatives)

Open Access Mode

open journal

Open Access Text Version

final published version

Ministry points / journal


Ministry points / journal in years 2017-2021


Publication indexed in

BazTech | CEJSH | Bazhum | Erih Plus | Index Copernicus