Muscat: The U.S. Fifth Fleet has said that two oil tankers were damaged in an incident near the Gulf of Oman that one of the ships’ operators described as a suspected attack, according to Bloomberg.
A few weeks ago, four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged in what the U.S. said was an Iranian attack using naval mines. Tehran had denied the charge.
Quoting the manager of tanker Kokuka Courageous, which was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with a cargo of methanol, Bloomberg reported that 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.”
The Strait of Hormuz, at the entrance of the Gulf, is a waterway for about 40% of the world’s seaborne oil shipments.
Meanwhile, another tanker, Front Altair, sent a distress signal to the U.A.E. port of Fujairah. It had loaded an oil shipment in Abu Dhabi, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It is owned by Norway’s Frontline Ltd. and is registered in the Marshall Islands.
UK maritime safety group warns of unspecified incident in Gulf of Oman, urges ‘extreme caution’ amid US-Iran tensions.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British navy, put out the alert early on Thursday. It did not elaborate but said it was investigating.
Tanker Front Altair was on fire, an official at the U.A.E. port of Fujairah and a person with knowledge of the matter said. It wasn’t immediately clear what the cause of the fire was.
Oil prices surged on Thursday after a unit of the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy said it was aware of an incident involving a tanker in the Gulf of Oman near the Iranian coast.
A U.K. maritime body said it’s investigating an incident in the Sea of Oman after an oil tanker sent a distress signal to a port in the United Arab Emirates.
The ‘U.K. and its partners are currently investigating,” U.K. Maritime Trade Operations said on its website.
The incident comes as Iranian media claimed – without offering any evidence – that there had been an explosion in the area targeting oil tankers.
Thursday’s maritime alert comes after what the U.S. has described as Iranian attacks on four oil tankers nearby, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Iran has denied being involved.
Meanwhile, Brent crude spiked 3% on Thursday morning on reports of tanker explosions in the Gulf of Oman.
Brent crude is currently trading at $61.77 a barrel.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on May 29 that naval mines “almost certainly from Iran” were used to attack the tankers off the United Arab Emirates last month, and warned Tehran against conducting new operations.
Tensions in the Middle East have escalated since U.S.
President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 multinational nuclear pact with Iran and reimposed sanctions, notably targeting Tehran’s key oil exports.