UK company warns of ‘potential hijack’ of ship off UAE coast

A British maritime company has stated {that a} “potential hijack” is unfolding off the coast of the United Arab Emirates’s Fujairah area within the Gulf of Oman, with out giving particulars on the vessel or vessels concerned, as a number of different ships additionally indicated they have been in bother.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) had in an earlier warning discover on Tuesday, based mostly on a third-party supply, suggested ships to train excessive warning on account of an incident approximately 60 nautical miles (111km) east of Fujairah.

Shipping authority Lloyd’s List and maritime intelligence agency Dryad Global each recognized the vessel concerned within the incident as Panama-flagged asphalt tanker Asphalt Princess. The vessel’s proprietor, listed as Emirati free zone-based Glory International, couldn’t instantly be reached for remark late Tuesday.

Iranian-backed forces are believed to have seized the ship, three maritime safety sources advised the Reuters information company.

Apparently responding to the incident, Iran’s state-run IRNA information company quoted Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh as calling the current maritime assaults within the area “completely suspicious”. He denied that Iran was concerned.

“Iran’s naval forces are ready for help and rescue in the region,” Khatibzadeh stated.

The UK’s overseas ministry is “urgently investigating” the incident on a vessel off the coast of the UAE, a spokesperson stated on Tuesday.

The space within the Arabian Sea results in the Strait of Hormuz, by means of which a few fifth of the world’s seaborne oil exports flows. Fujairah is a major port within the area for ships to tackle new oil cargo, decide up provides or commerce out crew.

On Tuesday afternoon, no less than 5 ships within the sea between the UAE and Iran up to date their AIS monitoring standing to “Not Under Command”, in accordance with Refinitiv ship monitoring information and MarineTraffic.com.

Such a standing usually signifies a ship is unable to manoeuvre on account of distinctive circumstances.

It was not clear if the info in query information had any connection to the reported incident.

Exchanging accusations

The potential hijacking got here amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West over its tattered nuclear deal and as industrial delivery within the area has discovered itself within the crosshairs over it.

Most lately, the United States, the UK and Israel blamed Iran for a drone assault final week on an oil tanker off Oman that killed two folks.

The US and UK stated on Sunday that they might work with their allies to answer the assault on the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime.

Iran denied involvement in that suspected drone assault and stated on Monday it might reply promptly to any risk in opposition to its safety.

Iran and Israel have exchanged varied accusations of finishing up assaults on one another’s vessels in current months.

Gerry Northwood, a former British navy captain, stated that the incidents in current weeks are alarming for worldwide delivery.

Commenting on the incident on Tuesday, Northwood stated that “if this is something connected to Iran, there is going to be some sort of state intervention there.”

“If it is some sort of private hijacking, along the lines with Somali hijackers, it will be a matter for ship owners and insurance company to sort out,” he advised Al Jazeera.

Tensions have elevated in Gulf waters and between Iran and Israel since 2018, when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the US from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear take care of six world powers and reimposed sanctions which have crippled its economic system.

Since 2019, the waters off Fujairah have seen a sequence of explosions and hijackings. The US Navy blamed Iran for a sequence of limpet mine assaults on vessels that broken tankers.

Also in 2019, Iran seized the British-flagged Stena Impero on July 19 within the Strait of Hormuz because it was headed from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas to Dubai. The raid got here after authorities in Gibraltar, a British abroad territory, seized an Iranian supertanker carrying $130m in crude oil on suspicion it was breaking European Union sanctions by taking the oil to Syria. Both vessels have been later launched.

In July of final yr, an oil tanker sought by the US for allegedly circumventing sanctions on Iran was hijacked off the Emirati coast, following months of tensions between Iran and the US.

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