U.S. Navy aware of ‘reported attack’ on tankers in Gulf of Oman – NBC News
The U.S. Navy said it was assisting after a “reported attack” on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.
American military vessels were “in the area and are rendering assistance” following two distress calls in the stretch of water that separates Oman and the United Arab Emirates from Iran, the U.S. 5th Fleet said in a statement.
The management company for one of the tankers said a “full-scale emergency response” was launched after its hull was damaged and all 21 crew members were forced to abandon ship.
Everyone aboard the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous were rescued in a lifeboat from a nearby Dutch-flagged tug, the Coastal Ace, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said in a statement.
One person suffered minor injuries and the ship’s cargo of methanol was intact, the firm added.
There was an explosion and a fire aboard the other damaged ship, the Front Altair, a crude oil tanker flagged to the Marshall Islands, its management company said.
All 23 crew members were “safe and accounted for” and had left the Front Altair, according to Martin Baxendale, spokesman for Maritime Technical International, which represents Frontline shipping company.
“We’re trying to establish what’s happened on board,” he said, declining to give further details.
Oil prices jumped as much as 4 percent following Thursday’s incident.
Coordinates given by the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British navy, as well as the ship tracking website Marine Traffic, said the vessels were both within 30 miles of the Iranian coast. In recent weeks tensions have risen sharply between Tehran and Washington.
Saudi Arabia and the U.S. blamed Iran, an allegation it denied.
Last week, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said that “the threat is imminent” of an attack by Iran or its proxies. The Trump administration had previously announced additional troops, an aircraft carrier strike group, Air Force bombers and Patriot missiles being sent to the Middle East.
President Donald Trump has also withdrawn from 2015’s landmark Iran nuclear agreement, has imposed sanctions that squeezed the country’s economy and designated its powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
Iran denies claims that it wants to attack U.S. forces, with its ambassador to the United Nations telling NBC News in May that the rhetoric coming from Washington was dangerous and mirrored the run-up to the Iraq War.
Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi called such statements “fake intelligence.”
Alexander Smith, Caroline Radnofsky and Linda Givetash reported from London, and Kurt Chirbas reported from New York.