Oil Tankers in Port of UAE Report Damages from Explosions, Increasing Chance of War with Iran
FUJAIRAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — As many as four oil tankers
anchored in the Mideast were damaged in what Gulf officials described
Monday as a “sabotage” attack off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
details of the incident remained unclear, it raised risks for shippers
in a region vital to global energy supplies at a time of increasing
tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with
The U.S. issued a new warning to sailors as the
UAE’s regional allies condemned Sunday’s alleged attack, which the UAE
said targeted vessels off the coast of its port city of Fujairah.
officials declined to say who they suspected was responsible, but the
incident came after a pro-Iran satellite channel in Lebanon and Iranian
media earlier falsely claimed Fujairah’s port had been hit by mysterious
A U.S. official in Washington, without offering any
evidence, told The Associated Press that an American military team’s
initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to
blow holes in the ships, including two Saudi, one Norwegian and one
Emirati oil tanker. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the
investigation, agreed to reveal the findings only if not quoted by name.
The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols the Mideast and operates from a
base in Fujairah, has repeatedly declined to comment on the incident.
The U.S. already had warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Tehran.
heightened tensions in the region, the United Nations called on “all
concerned parties to exercise restraint for the sake of regional peace,
including by ensuring maritime security” and freedom of navigation, U.N.
deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
The scale of the alleged
sabotage also remained unclear. A statement from Saudi Energy Minister
Khalid al-Falih said two of the kingdom’s oil tankers, including one due
to later carry crude to the U.S., sustained “significant damage.”
However, a report from Sky News Arabia, a satellite channel owned by an
Abu Dhabi ruling family member, showed the allegedly targeted Saudi
tanker Al Marzoqah afloat without any apparent damage. Satellite images
obtained by the AP early Tuesday showed no visible major damage to any
of the vessels.
The MT Andrea Victory, one of the allegedly
targeted ships, sustained a hole in its hull just above its waterline
from “an unknown object,” its owner Thome Ship Management said in a
statement. Images Monday of the Norwegian-flagged Andrea Victory, which
the company said was “not in any danger of sinking,” showed damage
similar to what the firm described.
Emirati officials identified
the third ship as the Saudi-flagged oil tanker Amjad. Ship-tracking data
showed the vessel still anchored off Fujairah, apparently not in
immediate distress. The fourth ship was the A. Michel, a bunkering
tanker flagged in Sharjah, one of the UAE’s seven emirates.
U.S. official said each ship sustained a 5- to 10-foot (1.5- to 3-meter)
hole in it, near or just below the water line, suspected to have been
caused by explosive charges. Emirati officials had requested a team of
U.S. military investigators aid them in their probe.
in Fujairah, also a UAE emirate, also declined to speak to the AP.
Emirati officials stopped AP journalists from traveling by boat to see