Two oil tankers damaged after 'reported attack' in Gulf of Oman, US says
TheNationalUAE -

The US Navy is assisting two oil tankers that were targeted in a "reported attack" in the Gulf of Oman after it received distress calls from them on Thursday, it said in a statement.

"We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman," said a statement from the Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain.

"US naval forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 am. local time and a second one at 7:00 am," the statement said.

"US Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance."

Dryad Global, a maritime intelligence firm, 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. The ship, which was built in 2016, had set sail from the Emirati port of Ruwais late on Tuesday local time and was set to arrive at the Taiwanese port of Kaohsiung on June 30. An Emirati official told Bloomberg that the tanker was on fire and that the vessel had been loaded with oil in Abu Dhabi before setting off on its journey.

There has been no official confirmation how the vessels were attacked or who was behind the assault.

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 Britain and its partners were investigating. The group urged "extreme caution".

The US Fifth Fleet did not immediately respond to a comment request from The National.

Sources told Reuters that two oil tankers were on fire after attacks in the Gulf of Oman. Both tankers were evacuated after the incident and the crew are safe, the sources said.

The second vessel was identified by sources as the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous, Reuters reported. It set off from the Saudi port of Al Jubail on June 10 and was on course to reach Singapore by June 22.

Iran's Al Alam television station reported that two large oil tankers came under attack as a result of "successive explosions", without offering evidence. Reports about an attack remain unconfirmed.

The coordinates offered for the incident by the British group put it some 45 kilometres (25 miles) off the Iranian coastline.

Benchmark Brent crude, apparently reacting to the incident, rose in early trading Thursday to over $61, a 2.3 per cent increase.

Meanwhile, shipping paper Tradewinds reported that an oil tanker owned by Norwegian company Frontline had been struck by a torpedo off the Emirati port Fujairah. Fujairah is also on the Gulf of Oman, approaching the critical Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Arabian Gulf through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes.

Frontline was not immediately available for comment.

Thursday's maritime alerts comes after what the US has described as Iranian attacks on four oil tankers nearby, off the coast of the UAE, in May. Iran has denied being involved.

Those apparent attacks occurred off the coast of Fujairah.

More to follow.

Updated: June 13, 2019 12:01 PM

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