International shipping companies are on high alert because of the growing tension in the Middle East following the US assassination of a top Iranian general.

The sector is looking at the possibility of freight rates rising sharply and higher war insurance premiums, especially for ships going through the Strait of Hormuz.  In the past, Iran has threatened to shut the key shipping corridor and bottleneck for tankers working in the energy sector.  The UK is looking at ways to keep the chokepoint open.

"I have instructed preparations for HMS Montrose and HMS Defender to return to accompanying duties of Red Ensign Shipping in the Strait of Hormuz," said UK defense secretary Ben Wallace.  "The government will take all necessary steps to protect our ships and citizens at this time."

Japan's Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, one of the country's largest shipowners, issued a new safety advisory for its vessels transiting the Strait.  Another major Japanese shipowner NYK Line is telling its ships to icrease speed going through the the busy waterway.

The maritime security company Dryad Global is monitoring "the high threat to vessels within the region", primarily "US and Saudi-flagged vessels".  But the threat could extend to allied nations as well.  "Marshall Islands-flagged vessels, for example, which come under US protection as a US associated state, are also at a heightened risk," the company said.  "There is a latent, but similarly high risk to vessels belonging to states that support the US Sentinel operation," the statement continued.