Two crew members were killed when a tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire was attacked off the coast of Oman. The two slain crew members were a Briton and a Romanian. They were on board the Liberian-flagged Mercer Street tanker when the attacks took place. The company described the attack as a “suspected piracy incident”.
A US defence official believes that an armed drone attacked the tanker that was operated by Iran.
Another official informed media persons that they received a distress call from an apparent UAV style attack from the tanker. The tanker was, in fact, escorted to the port by the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and by another USS Mitscher destroyer. The official further informed that US Navy personnel, including explosive experts also on board to ensure there was no additional danger.
The tanker’s crew stated that the drone exploded into its superstructure. The crew also reported a failed attempt by another drone earlier in the day but said it fell into the water. This incident comes to light amid heightened tensions between Israel and Iran.
The tanker was in the northern Indian Ocean at the time of the incident. It was sailing from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. The crew informed that there was no cargo on board.
The tanker is Japanese-owned, led by Israeli shipping tycoon Eyal Ofer. It was managed by Zodiac Maritime, an international ship management company that is headquartered in London.
Zodiac Maritime further informed that the tanker was under its power and moved to a safe location escorted by the US navy.
According to the company, the coordinates of the incident are northeast of Masirah Island, off Oman. However, an official at Oman’s Maritime Security Centre stated to the Oman State News that the incident happened outside Oman’s waters.
Oman sent its air jets and a Navy ship to the attack location. However, the crew members declined assistance and said they would continue on their own, an Omani official informed media persons.
Zodiac Maritime informed that it was working in collaboration with the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), and investigations are going on concerning the incident.
The US State Department Spokesperson Jalina Porter informed reporters that the United States has extended their heartfelt condolences to the family members of the victims and are also deeply concerned by the reports and are monitoring the situation closely.
Source: Maritime Shipping News