Two oil tankers, the Norwegian Front Altair and the Japanese-operated Kokuka Courageous were damaged in a suspected attack in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday a month after a similar incident in the region.
The Front Altair was en route from Ruwais in the United Arab Emirates to Taiwan. It was attacked at 5:00 am, 25 miles from the Iranian port of Jask. Fire broke out on the tanker carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphta. The crew comprised 11 Russians, 11 Filipinos and one Georgian and all were unharmed.
The Kokuka Courageous was carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore. The attack breached the hull and the engine room caught fire as the tanker was sailing at about 28 miles from Jask. One crew member was injured. 21 crew had abandoned ship after the accident. Japanese shipping company Kokuka Sangyo, owner of the Kokuka Courageous, confirmed its ship had been attacked. Company president Yutaka Katada told reporters that the vessel had been hit twice within three hours before all sailors were evacuated.
Iranian search and rescue teams picked up 44 sailors from the two tankers and took them to Jask and some of them were given medical help. The US navy is providing assistance, saying it was aware of the reported attack and had received “two separate distress calls”.
According to Euronews, Dr Ian Black, Senior Visiting Fellow, Middle East Centre, London School of Economics described the accident as potentially very serious.
“It’s the second suspected attack in a month, in the world’s busiest shipping lane in terms of oil, against a background of escalating tensions between Iran on the Eastern side of the Persian Gulf and the United States, and of course the Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and so on – on the other side of the Gulf,” he said.
“So there’s a lot of tension there and the attention this is getting, this incident, is precisely a measure of that – the fear that it may escalate into something even more dangerous.”
(Source: Euronews/Sky News)