Accession Number:



Oceanographic Effects on Maritime Threats: Mines and Oil Spills in the Strait of Hormuz

Descriptive Note:

Master's thesis

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The Strait of Hormuz is a unique waterway vital to world commerce as such, it is of military importance as well. The strait is narrow and has turbulent currents that change in intensity and direction due to the reverse estuarine flow of the Persian Gulf. On the border between extratropical and monsoonal atmospheric synoptic influences, the wind direction and intensity are dependent on time of year, which side of the strait due to terrain, and time of day due to landsea breeze cycles. Utilization of model field inputs from near real-time models to tactical decision aids greatly enhances the information output by those aids. Using the examples of drifting mines and oil spills, the utility of these model fields is shown when compared to climatology inputs. OILMAP, the oil dispersion model developed at Applied Science Associates, is used in this study to demonstrate how the behavior of an oil spill reacts with model field inputs for surface winds and currents from the Naval Oceanographic Office and the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, followed by comparative analysis between climatology inputs. Drift mine behavior is analyzed utilizing a simple Lagrangian drift model with model field inputs compared with climatology inputs. The results from the comparisons show that the variable nature of the windcurrent direction and speed through the strait is impossible to capture using climatology inputs. Winds less than 5 ms are not a factor in the movement of an oil slick even compared to the slowest of currents at 10-15 cms. It is determined that the tidal nature of the currents through the strait, combined with variable strength of the winds, make prediction of oil slick or mine drift track unrealistic using climatology data. Therefore, using operational, near real-time environmental data is necessary for information superiority.

Subject Categories:

  • Physical and Dynamic Oceanography

Distribution Statement: