Tankers heading for port after alleged attacks in the Gulf of Oman
Frontline tanker Front Altair is under tow. It is now out of Iranian territorial waters, while Japanese tanker Kokura Courageous is headed to port under own steam.
Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous were affected by explosions as they sailed across the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. A fire broke out on the Frontline ship, and the crew was evacuated to Iran.
“The 23 crew members of Front Altair are safe and well. There are plans being laid for their speedy return,” Frontline writes in a press release on Saturday.
The crew will be transported by air from Bandar Abbas in Iran to Dubai on Saturday night, according to Iranian news agency ISNA.
It is confirmed that the fire aboard Front Altair is extinguished.
“Front Altair is heading for the Fujairah-Khor Fakkan area of the United Arab Emirates,” the port management of the Iranian port city of Hormozgan tells ISNA.
“The tanker has left Iranian territorial waters,” he continues, adding that the tanker is under tow. It is also sprayed with water to cool the hull down underway.
Kokuka Courageous under own steam
The Japanese tanker Kokuka Courageous is under own steam on Saturday, headed for the Emirates.
“We do not yet know if it docks in Khor Fakkan or Fujairah, as the two ports are close together,” a spokesperson for the shipping company, Kokuka, informs.
The United States claims that the two tankers were subjected to attacks by Iran. Iran has refuted the charges and asked for independent investigations. UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, maintains the same.
No country has supported the allegations of the Trump administration, except the British government.
Abe condemns the alleged assault on Kokura Courage
Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, condemns the alleged attack on the tanker Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman (near the Hormuz Strait) on Thursday.
Abe states that Japan strongly condemns the actions that threatened a Japanese ship, no matter who is responsible.
The tanker Kokuka Courageous was supposedly attacked by what crew members describe as “flying objects”. The ship transports methanol to Singapore and Thailand. All 21 crew members on board were evacuated.
Mike Pompeo was quick to accuse Iran of being responsible. Iran, in turn, responds that the US accusations are a plot by Washington and US allies in the region.
Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tweets that it is suspicious that the Japanese tanker was attacked while Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, was visiting Iran.
Abe concludes that all involved countries must avoid confrontation and refrain from any action that increases tension. He promises to continue helping to calm the heated situation in the region.
Too early to assert who is behind the tanker attacks
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide (Conservatives), is awaiting developments before adhering to the charges of her American counterpart, Mike Pompeo. Pompeo was very quick to point his finger at Iran regarding the alleged tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman.
“It is too early to conclude who is behind, but I’m very worried about the situation that we witness in the area. It takes very little before it escalates,” Eriksen Søreide tells NRK.
She points to the Norwegian Maritime Directorate’s warning that Norwegian ships should exercise enhanced caution.
“It is a direct consequence of the level of tension in the region being very high,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs continues.
The Norwegian Maritime Directorate has raised the level of safety for Norwegian ships from level one to two, i.e. the intermediate level. This means that the vessels must implement measures in accordance with its safety plans.
They ask Norwegian ships to exercise heightened vigilance in the Gulf of Oman area after the possible attack on the two tankers on Thursday, in addition to the attacks against four tankers last month.
Press spokesperson of Søreide, Astrid Sehl, refers to the Norwegian Maritime Directorate’s advice. She states that Norwegian authorities are concerned.
“Norway is one of the world’s leading shipping nations, and for us, free navigation and safe travel on the oceans is of utmost importance,” Sehl concludes on behalf of Søreide.
© #Norway Today