The US Navy states it is assisting two tankers that have suffered explosions whilst transiting the Gulf of Oman. One vessel, the 110,000 dwt tanker ship Front Altair is reported to be on fire. It was carrying a cargo of naphtha to Japan. The crew of the ship are reported to have evacuated.
The second ship, the tanker Kokuka Courageous was sailing to Singapore with a cargo of methanol. Reports at this time are still limited, but it seems the vessel was attacked.
At this time there is no firm information on how, what or who attacked the two vessels, with reports mentioning “torpedoes” and “surface attack”.
Berhard Schulte, owner of the Kokuka Courageous, said in a statement that the ship’s “… hull has been breached above the water line on the starboard side. All crew are reported safe and only one minor injury reported.”
The attacks follow the damaging of four tankers in the Gulf in May, that an investigation by UAE authorities concluded was a “sophisticated and coordinated operation,” most likely by a state actor. Though not mentioned in the report, the finger was very much pointed at Iran.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have been increasing rapidly in the last few months. Should any evidence accrue that points to Iranian-backed forces, rogue or otherwise, it may prove to be the spark that ignites the powder keg.