One ship ablaze after presumed attacks on vessels near the Iranian coastline push oil prices up and prompt global alarm.
Two oil tankers have been evacuated in the Gulf of Oman following reported attacks on the vessels, prompting international alarm and sending oil prices spiralling upwards.
Scores of crew members from the Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair and the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous abandoned the ships on Thursday after sending out distress calls amid explosions on board.
The cause of the blasts was unclear, but one operator said it suspected its ship had been hit by a torpedo.
Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that Iranian search and rescue teams picked up 44 sailors – 21 from the Kokuka Courageous and 23 from the Front Altair – following the incidents and took them to the nearby port of Jask.
The US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said it also assisted the tankers after receiving two distress calls.
A statement by the Kokuka Courageous’s management company, BSM Ship Management (Singapore), said 21 crew members of the vessel abandoned the ship after an incident on board which resulted in damage to its hull’s starboard side. The vessel was about 70 nautical miles (nearly 130km) from Fujairah in the United Arab Emirate (UAE) and about 14 nautical miles (26km) from the coast of Iran.
“The Kokuka Courageous remains in the area and is not in any danger of sinking. The cargo of methanol is intact,” the statement said. One crew member was injured during the incident and was receiving medical treatment on another vessel nearby, it added.
Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift [ISNA/AP]
Front Altair, meanwhile, had been chartered by Taiwan’s state oil refiner CBC Corp and was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha, a petrochemical feedstock, when it was “suspected of being hit by a torpedo” around noon Taiwan time (04:00GMT), Wu I-Fang, CPC’s petrochemical business division CEO, told the Reuters news agency. He said all crew members had been rescued.
Norway‘s Frontline shipping company, which owns the Front Altair, said its vessel was on fire.