Wednesday 16 October 2019

Tankers damaged in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman

DUBAI, June 13, 2019

Two oil tankers were hit in a suspected attack in the Gulf of Oman early on Thursday, causing oil prices to surge and raising the already heightened tensions in the Middle East. The tankers were evacuated and the crew are reported safe, said media reports.

The attack comes a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck.

An oil tanker owned by Norway’s Frontline has been struck by a torpedo off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE, shipping newspaper Tradewinds reported on Thursday, citing unnamed industry sources.

The US Fifth Fleet said two oil tankers were damaged in an incident near the Strait of Hormuz that one of the ships’ operators described as a suspected attack, reported Bloomberg.

The development will inflame already-rising political tensions in the region weeks after four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged in what the US said was an Iranian attack using naval mines. Tehran denied the charge, it stated.

Cmdr. Joshua Frey, a 5th Fleet spokesman, said the U.S. Navy was assisting the two vessels. He did not say how the ships were attacked or who was suspected of being behind the assault.

"We are working on getting details," Frey told The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Iranian state television's website, citing the pro-Iran Lebanese satellite news channel Al-Mayadeen, said two oil tankers had been targeted in the Gulf of Oman

One of the ships, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, was "suspected of being hit by a torpedo”, according to Taiwan’s state-owned petrol company. The ship was on fire, its owners said.

Japan's Trade Ministry said the two vessels had "Japan-related cargo" as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was wrapping up a high-stakes visit in Tehran that sought to ease tensions between Iran and the United States.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, part of the Royal Navy, earlier said it was aware of an incident in the Gulf of Oman.
Dryad Global, a maritime intelligence firm, preliminarily identified one of the vessels involved as the MT Front Altair, a Marshall Islands-flagged crude oil tanker. The vessel was "on fire and adrift," Dryad added. It did not offer a cause for the incident or mention the second ship.

The second tanker, Kokuka Courageous, was damaged in the incident, a spokesman for the vessel's manager BSM Ship Management (Singapore) said.

The vessel was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with a cargo of methanol.

The spokesman said 21 crew members had abandoned ship after the incident, which resulted in damage to the ship's starboard hull, reported Reuters.

The master and crew were quickly rescued from a lifeboat by the Coastal Ace, a nearby vessel.

One crew man from the Kokuka Courageous was slightly injured in the incident and received first aid on board the Coastal Ace.

"The Kokuka Courageous remains in the area and is not in any danger of sinking. The cargo of methanol is intact," the spokesman said.



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