Smoke billows from the Front Altair oil tanker.
PHOTO BY IRIB NEWS AGENCY
DUBAI – An oil tanker that sailed from the UAE port of Al Ruwais was damaged in an “attack” in the Gulf of Oman and has allegedly sunk on Thursday (June 3), according to the Iranian news agency IRNA.
Front Altair was reportedly carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha during the incident.
Update: A spokesman for Front Altair, however, said that the oil tanker is still afloat in the Gulf of Oman, denying an earlier report by IRNA.
“There are pictures from a salvage vessel that is circling the ship, and the vessel hasn’t sunk,” said company spokesman Pat Adamson, citing the most recent information received from the ship’s technical management, which he had received a few minutes earlier.
Update: On Saturday, Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA quoted the ports chief of Iran’s Hormosgan province that the ship was “heading toward the Fujairah-Khor Fakkan area in the United Arab Emirates”.
The US Navy, in a statement, confirmed that two oil tankers were targeted in a “reported attack” in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.
“We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman,” the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said.
US Navy ships are in the area “rendering assistance” after US naval forces received two separate distress calls on Thursday morning.
There is yet no official confirmation on how the oil tankers were attacked. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Maritime intelligence company, Dryad Global, identified one of the vessels as crude oil tanker MT Front Altair. The second vessel was identified as Kokuka Courageous, according to Reuters.
According to Dryad, Front Altair was “on fire and adrift”. Its operator, International Tanker Management, said an explosion sparked fire on board the oil tanker.
Iranian news agency IRNA reported on Thursday that the Front Altair had sunk. Earlier reports had said the tanker was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha. A company spokesman for Front Altair, however, refuted IRNA’s claims and said that the oil tanker is still afloat.
All 23 crew members were evacuated safely to a nearby vessel, Norwegian newspaper VG reported, quoting shipping firm Frontline Management, which owns the oil tanker.
The oil tanker, believed loaded with oil in Abu Dhabi, reportedly sailed from the UAE port of Al Ruwais late on Tuesday and was set to arrive at the Taiwanese port of Kaohsiung on June 30.
Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous sailed off from the Saudi port of Al Jubail on June 10 and was set to reach Singapore on June 22. A spokesman from Bernhard Schulte Ship management said that 21 crew abandoned ship after the incident. The ship’s starboard hull was reportedly damaged, but the oil tanker “is not in danger of sinking”, the spokesman said.
According to media reports, both oil tankers were on fire after the attacks, but that their crew members were evacuated to safety. Iran state media said that the country rescued 44 crew members from both vessels. ICA/Expat Media
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