On June 13, the US Navy’s Fifth fleet said it responded to a distress call by two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The two ships suffered a “reported attack.”
“US naval forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12am local time and a second one at 7:00am,” the fleet said in a statement. “US Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance.”
Reuters cited four anonymous shipping and trade sources said that the two tankers, the Marshal Islands-flagged Front Altair and the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous, had been evacuated and the crews were safe.
#Incident Reports of vessel MT Front Altair being on fire & adrift at position 2527N 05722E are being investigated. No cause has been positively confirmed. Latest information will be communicated when available. Contact our team via https://t.co/Qv7PyCfXM3 #Fujairah #UAE #attack pic.twitter.com/0Z4aIBzE5M
— Dryad Global (@GlobalDryad) June 13, 2019
A statement by the Kokuka Courageous’ management company, BSM Ship Management (Singapore), said 21 crew of the vessel abandoned ship after an incident on board which resulted in damage to the ship’s hull starboard side. The vessel is about 70 nautical miles from the United Arab Emirate (UAE) of Fujairah and about 14 nautical miles from the coast of Iran.
“The Kokuka Courageous remains in the area and is not in any danger of sinking. The cargo of methanol is intact,” the statement said.
Iran’s Press TV reported that Iranian ships had rescued all of the oil tankers’ 44 crew members.
“An informed source said an Iranian rescue vessel had picked up the 23 crew members of one of the tankers and 21 of the other from the sea and had brought them to safety at Iran’s Jask, in the southern Hormozgan Province,” Press TV reported.
It is unclear if it actually was an attack, since various anonymous sources cited by MSM claim different scenarios, such as a surface attack, or a magnetic mine exploding.
Lebanese Al-Mayadeen cited an ‘anonymous reliable source’, according to which the Front Altair had completely sunk. Taiwan’s state oil refiner said that it was believed to have been struck by a torpedo.
Oil tanker, Front Altair (L), believed to have “being hit by a torpedo” in the Gulf of Oman, according to Taiwan’s state oil refiner.
Oil tanker, Kokuka Courageous (R), is also believed to have sustained damage to its starboard hull, according to its management co. pic.twitter.com/Ea5hgn65ui
— Tom Boadle (@TomBoadle) June 13, 2019
On the previous day, a fire that broke out on an Iranian oil platform of the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf and was subsequently contained and no fatalities were reported.
Iran’s Students News Agency ISNA said the fire had been contained. State TV said the cause of the fire was under investigation and there were no reports of disruptions to operations at the field.
“No one was reportedly killed by the fire at platform SPG9,” the head of the Pars Oil and Gas Company (POGC) Mohammad Meshkinfam told Shana.
Regardless, these incidents come one month after four tankers were damaged off the coast of the UAE in the Persian Gulf. US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that naval mines “almost certainly from Iran” were used to attack the ships back then.
It is likely that this presumed attack would also be blamed on Iran.
The recent series of incidents with oil tankers and facilities demonstrate that a kind of sabotage may have been war going on in the Persian Gulf and nearby areas. Some forces are apparently aiming to destabilize the situation in the region.
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