- An oil tanker is on fire after an apparent attack in the Gulf of Oman.
- The tanker is owned by the Norwegian company Frontline, and the company that chartered the ship said it was “suspected of being hit by a torpedo.” Frontline said the crew was safe.
- A second tanker, also damaged in a “suspected attack,” has been evacuated, with one person injured, and the US and UK navies are responding to the incident
- Oil prices are surging after the indicidents in the waters off Iran, an important oil-carrying route that has seen increasing tensions between Iran and US tankers.
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Two oil tankers appear to have been attacked off the coast of Iran, with a photo showing one of them on fire and billowing smoke.
The image, published by Iranian state media, shows the burning Front Altair, a tanker owned by the Norwegian company Frontline.
The ship is one of two that were allegedly attacked in the Gulf of Oman, an important oil route, on Thursday, causing oil prices to surge, increasing by more than 3% per barrel.
Both ships were evacuated and their crews are safe.
Frontline told Reuters on Thursday that the ship was on fire but that its crew had been rescued. It denied reports that the ship sank.
Taiwan’s state oil refiner CPC, which had chartered the ship, said it was “suspected of being hit by a torpedo.”
— Press TV (@PressTV) June 13, 2019
The manager of the second tanker, the Kokuka Courageous, told Reuters that the ship was damaged in a “suspected attack.”
An anonymous US defence official told CBS News that it was “highly likely Iran caused these attacks” and denied Iran’s claims that it had rescued the two crews, saying that a US ship picked up one of them.
Kokuka Courageous’ operator, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement,said in a statement said all 21 crew members “abandoned ship” after the hull was damaged. One was “slightly injured,” it said.
It said the ship, which is 14 nautical miles from Iran’s coast, “remains in the area and is not in any danger of sinking.” Its cargo – tons of flammable methanol – is “intact,” it said.
A source told Reuters the tanker might have been hit by a mine.
The Japanese firm Kokuka Sangyo, which owns the ship, told reporters that the ship was hit twice within three hours before the crew evacuated.
Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., a South Korean company, said one of its ships rescued the Front Altair’s crew.
It said its crew members heard three rounds of explosions from the ship before it sent a distress call, the Associated Press reported.
The US Navy’s 5th Fleet said it was aware of a “reported attack” on the vessels after receiving two separate distress calls. It said its ships were “in the area and rendering assistance.”
The US earlier in June accused Iran of attacking four oil tankers with limpet mines, but Iran denies the charge.
The Gulf of Oman leads to the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway shared by Iran and Oman through which a third of the world’s sea-traded oil passes.
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