A UK maritime safety group is urging “extreme caution” for shipping in the Strait of Hormuz following unconfirmed reports of multiple explosions and an attack on two more tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operation has warned that an unspecified incident has taken place in the Gulf of Oman and is urging “extreme caution” amid heightened US-Iran tensions, while Iran media is claiming that there has been an explosion in the area targeting oil tankers.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operation is run by the Royal Navy and the United States has its naval Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain.
Neither has responded to a request for comment and the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Federal Transport Authority have not commented on the reports.
Multiple reports on social media, and from seafarers aboard ships in the vicinity of the alleged attacks, claim the oil tanker MT Front Altair has been abandoned after an attack that left the ship adrift and in flames.
Her crew was reportedly rescued by the merchant vessel Hyundai Dubai, which is now heading for Abu Dhabi, according to its AIS data.
A second tanker Kokuka Courageous has reportedly been lost from radar with its AIS transponder switched off. The ship is not responding to radio hails, according to a deck officer aboard a ship in the vicinity who asked not to be named.
The ship management company for Kokuka Courageous, which was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with a cargo of methanol, said the vessel “has been damaged as a result of the suspected attack.”
“The hull has been breached above the water line on the starboard side,” Bernhard Schulte GmbH & Co KG said in a statement on its website. “All crew are reported safe and only one minor injury reported.”Brent oil crude jumped as much as 4.5% and was trading at $61.60 a barrel at 11:16 a.m. in Dubai.
The crew of MT Front Altair reportedly said they were attacked ‘on the surface’ suggesting a small boat attack similar to those reported against four tankers last month.
The US has described those incidents as Iranian attacks on four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Iran has denied being involved.