Oil tankers have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman, with explosions heard and the UK maritime safety group warning of an unspecified incident. The huge vessels have been identified as Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous and were evacuated. The Front Altair, which was carrying crude oil, is suspected to have been struck by a torpedo, according to shipping industry newspaper TradeWinds. But where is the Gulf of Oman and who attacked the tankers in the Middle Eastern Gulf?
The two tankers were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman.
The crews have been evacuated according to shipping sources.
Oil prices have surged by 4 percent, according to Reuters after tensions were raised followed by a dispute between Iran and the United Staes.
This comes after the US claimed Iran used explosives to blow huge holes in four ships – including two Saudi oil tankers – anchored in the Persian Gulf last month.
What happened in the Gulf of Oman?
Two oil tankers have been hit in suspected attacks amid rising tensions between Iran and the United States of America.
The UK Maritime Trade Operations, which is part of the Royal Navy, has urged “extreme caution”.
The group put out the alert early this morning and said it was investigating.
According to Reuters, 21 crew members abandoned ship after incident in Gulf of Oman.
Reports of the explosions are yet to be officially confirmed by any oil tanker firms or regional governments.
The US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said their forces are assisting tankers after receiving two distress calls.
Josh Frey, of the 5th Fleet, said in a statement: “US naval forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6.12am local time and a second one at 7am.
“US Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance.”
Where is the Gulf of Oman?
The Gulf of Oman connects the Arabian Sea with the Strait of Hormuz, which subsequently runs to the Persian Gulf.
It borders Iran and Pakistan on the north, Oman on the south, and the United Arab Emirates on the west.
The area is near the Strait of Hormuz, which is a major strategic waterway through which a fifth of global oil consumption passes from Middle East producers.
In 2018, scientists confirmed the Gulf of Oman contains one of the world’s largest marine dead zones, where the ocean contains little or no oxygen and marine wildlife cannot exist.
The dead zone encompasses nearly the entire 63,700-square-mile Gulf of Oman and the cause is a combination of increased ocean warming and increased runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers.
Who attacked the tankers in the Gulf of Oman?
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks on the oil tankers.
However, the US has accused Iran of the incident, but Iran has denied involvement in the apparent attacks today and last month, and has also accused the US of agressive behaviour.
The attacks come after increased long-standing tensions between Iran and the US and its allies in the Gulf.
Last month, four tankers were attacked off the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE blamed an unnamed “state actor” for the attack, which involved naval mines.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is currently visiting Iran in a bid to de-escalate the situation.
Speaking yesterday after talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Mr Abe warned that any “accidental conflict” must be avoided.
Mr Abe is due to meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei today, for the second and final day of his visit.