Two tankers have sustained damage in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman and the crew have been evacuated, shipping sources said on Thursday, a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck. Oil tanker Front Altair (operating under a Marshall Islands flag) was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha, a petrochemical feedstock, when it was “suspected of being hit by a torpedo” around noon Taiwan time (0400GMT), Wu I-Fang, a senior company official for Taiwan’s state oil refiner CPC Corp told Reuters. He said all crew members have been rescued. The other tanker, The Kokuka Courageous (operating under a Panama flag), was also damaged in the incident, a spokesman for the vessel’s manager BSM Ship Management (Singapore) said. The spokesman said 21 crew had abandoned ship after the incident, which resulted in damage to the ship’s starboard hull. The master and crew were quickly rescued from a lifeboat by the Coastal Ace, a nearby vessel. According to sources cited by IRNA, Iran’s state news agency, Iranian search and rescue teams picked up 44 sailors from the two damaged tankers and took them to the Iranian port of Jask. The vessels were about 70 nautical miles from Fujairah and about 14 nautical miles off Iran.
Statement from owners A statement from the owners of the Kokuka Courageous BSM Ship Management (Singapore), said they are launching “a full-scale emergency response following a security incident on board our managed products carrier the Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman earlier today. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, part of the Royal Navy, earlier said it was aware of an incident in the Gulf of Oman. “UK and its partners are currently investigating,” the group said without elaborating. U.S. Naval forces are assisting tankers in the Gulf of Oman after receiving two distress calls on Thursday, the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet told Reuters. “We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7:00 a.m.,” Joshua Frey of the Fifth Fleet said Oil prices surged by 4% after the report that raises tensions in the Gulf, which have been heightened by a dispute between Iran and the United States. 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.