Elements of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet were called to assist two oil tankers early Thursday morning, in distress after a “reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman.”
The Bahrain-based force released scant details of the attack on the vessels. No blame was laid or state actor/terrorist organization named by ship operators or authorities in Oman or neighboring United Arab Emirates.
Earlier this morning, two #tankers, #FrontAltair & #Kokuka Courageous, were reportedly torpedoed off the coast of #Oman. Watch their final movements before the reported #incidents in this past track video and learn more here: https://t.co/Odj8NYkkSm #marinetraffic pic.twitter.com/78XRuBorut
— MarineTraffic (@MarineTraffic) June 13, 2019
One of the ships, the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair, was “suspected of being hit by a torpedo”, according to Taiwan’s state-owned petrol company. The ship was on fire, its owners said.
The second tanker, Kokuka Courageous, was damaged in a “suspected attack” that breached the hull above the water line while on passage from Saudi Arabia to Singapore, according to Bernhard Schulte Ship management.
The 5th Fleet said it had sent naval forces to the area to assist the two vessels.
Guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG-96) is providing assistance to ships that had called for help, spokesperson Cmdr. Joshua Frey told USNI News on Thursday morning.
#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
Cmdr. Joshua Frey said his command was “aware” of the reported incident in the area. He declined to elaborate.
“We are working on getting details,” Frey told the Associated Press.
— Katie McQue (@katiemcque) June 13, 2019
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British Royal Navy, put out a warning early on Thursday. It did not elaborate but said it was investigating.
Emirati officials declined to immediately comment. The coordinates offered for the incident by the U.K. group put it some 45 kilometers (25 miles) off the Iranian coastline.
The incident comes as Iranian media claimed — without offering any evidence — that there had been an explosion in the area targeting oil tankers.
M.T Front Altair has been abandoned and its all crew has been safely picked up by nearest vessel Hyundai Dubai.
Master of Hyundai Dubai reported cause of fire on Front Altair as surface attack.
Front Altair is a loaded tanker on fire and adrift about 18 NM off our position. pic.twitter.com/QNuSbQF95b
— Maya Al Amri/قابوس (@maya_alamri2) June 13, 2019
The attacks come exactly four weeks after tankers were attacked in the region under similar circumstances, as reported by Breitbart News.
On that occasion the sabotage attacks were mounted off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) near the Strait of Hormuz. The attacks reportedly also damaged two ships from other nations, one of them registered to Norway.
The U.S. Maritime Administration issued an advisory to sailors in the area after that incident.
The agency also warned last month Iran and its proxies might “take action against U.S. and partner interests, including oil production infrastructure” by “targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers.”
AP contributed to this report