Taiwanese oil refiner which chartered the Altair said ship in Gulf of Oman suspected of being hit by a torpedo

Taiwanese oil refiner which chartered the Altair said ship in Gulf of Oman suspected of being hit by a torpedo

June 13, 2019– Mary Greeley News – Forty-four sailors have been evacuated from two ships in the Gulf of Oman this morning after the vessels were hit in a suspected attack, according to reports.

The US Navy said one oil tanker was adrift and on fire, and it was assisting the tankers after receiving two distress calls.

Iran claims it rescued crews of the ships today, and saved the 44 crew members of the two foreign freighters who were allegedly targeted in an attack in the Oman Sea, near the area in which a similar incident was recorded last May.

Taiwanese oil refiner which chartered the Altair said ship in Gulf of Oman suspected of being hit by a torpedo

The crew – 23 from one freighter and 21 from the other – were rescued from the sea and driven safely to the port of Jask, in the southern Iranian province of Hormozgan.

Reports said said the Front Altair, travelling from Qatar to Taiwan, had suffered three explosions and caught fire after a ‘surface attack’.

Taiwanese oil refiner which chartered the Altair said ship in Gulf of Oman suspected of being hit by a torpedo

Iranian news agency IRNA claimed that the ship had sunk, but its Norwegian owner Frontline insisted it was still afloat.

Its crew of 23 were picked up by nearby vessel Hyundai Dubai.

The general director of the ports of that region, Alahmorad Afifipur, explained that the first freighter, named Front Altair and with the flag of the Marshall Islands, caught fire 25 miles from the port of Jask.

Oil industry trading sources said two tankers – the Marshal Islands-flagged Front Altair and the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous – had been evacuated and all the crew members on board the vessels were safe.

It was later reported that the Front Altair had sunk after it was damaged in the suspected attack, but a spokesman for the ships denied the reports, insisting it was still afloat.

Japan’s Trade Ministry says the two oil tankers carried “Japan-related” cargo.

Taiwanese oil refiner which chartered the Altair said ship in Gulf of Oman suspected of being hit by a torpedo

The Altair’s cargo was worth more than $30million, according to estimates from trade sources.

Meanwhile, a shipping broker said the Kokuka, which flies under Panama’s flag, had suffered an explosion after an ‘outside attack’ which may have involved a magnetic mine.

The captain of the ship, which had left Qatar for Taiwan, ordered the crew to leave the ship due to the fire, according to Afifipur, quoted by the official agency IRNA.

The 23 people were rescued from the water with small boats and then transferred to a larger ship, which went with them to the port of Jask.

The second freighter, named after Kokuka and flag of Panama, was carrying methanol and was heading to Singapore from Saudi Arabia when it caught fire about 30 miles from Jask.

Its 21 occupants were also rescued and transferred to Jask, in operations in which an Iranian emergency helicopter also participated.

A firm that operates MT Front Altair said an explosion caused a fire onboard. Another shipping firm identified the second vessel hit and said 21 sailors were evacuated, with one slightly injured in the incident.

International Tanker Management, which operates the MT Front Altair, said the incident is still being investigated and that it was unclear what caused the explosion, which occurred around 8am local time (5am UK time) on Thursday.

The MT Front Altair had been loaded at a port in the Gulf with a petroleum product known as naphtha and was on its way to the Far East. Its crew of 23 is safe after being evacuated by the nearby Hyundai Dubai vessel.

A spokesman for the Kokuka Corageous said the crew had abandoned ship after the incident and the master and crew were quickly rescued from a lifeboat.

Taiwanese oil refiner which chartered the Altair said ship in Gulf of Oman suspected of being hit by a torpedo

The spokesman added: “The Kokuka Courageous remains in the area and is not in any danger of sinking. The cargo of methanol is intact.”

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British Navy, said it was aware of an incident and warned of ‘extreme caution’.

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For its part, the US Navy Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, said today that they were providing “assistance” to the “attacked” oil tankers, receiving two calls for help.

This alleged attack is the second incident against freighters registered in the area recently, since in May four oil tankers, two of them Saudis, were the target of sabotage.

Taiwanese oil refiner which chartered the Altair said ship in Gulf of Oman suspected of being hit by a torpedo

That event caused a surge in tension in the Persian Gulf after Saudi Arabia and the United States accused Iran of being behind the sabotage, an extreme that Tehran denied.

The area is near the Strait of Hormuz, a major strategic waterway through which a fifth of global oil consumption passes from Middle East producers.

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The incident came amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran and a month after what the US described as Iranian attacks on four oil tankers nearby, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Iran has denied being involved.

Those apparent attacks occurred off the Emirati port of Fujairah, also on the Gulf of Oman, approaching the critical Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes.

The timing was especially sensitive as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting Iran on a high-stakes diplomacy mission


Mary Greeley News
www.marygreeley.com

credit: In part with https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/gulf-of-oman-latest-uk-maritime-group-urges-extreme-caution-after-explosion-a4166201.html
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