Photo: Image Courtesy: U.S. Navy- Andrew M. Meyers

EUNAVFOR Identifies Tanker Attacked Yesterday in Southern Red Sea

The crude oil tanker targeted by Houthi fighters on Tuesday in the Red Sea is Saudi Arabia-flagged MT Abqaiq, EUNAVFOR said, confirming the incident.

The 302,977 dwt tanker, built in 2002, is part of National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia’s (Bahri) fleet.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said on April 3 that a merchant vessel reported an explosion while underway in the southern Red Sea.

The cause of the explosion was not known and an investigation into the incident was launched.

” EUNAVFOR confirms that the vessel continued underway and that the crew are safe and unharmed,” a statement from the organization reads.

“Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and EUNAVFOR assess that the incident is likely to be related to the ongoing conflict in Yemen; however, no further activity with relation to the incident has been reported. “

As World Maritime News reported, the ship sustained minor damage in the attack, which was foiled by the coalition forces’ warship, according to Col. Turki Al-Malki, a spokesman of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition forces.

There have been no injuries reported and the tanker has been escorted by the naval ship, Al-Malki was cited as saying by the Saudi Press Agency.

The attack was described as a retaliation for a deadly air strike carried out by the coalition on Monday, which claimed the lives of 16 people, including seven children.

Following the attack, EUNAVFOR and CMF have deployed a number maritime and aviation assets in the region and will continue to maintain presence in the area.

Extreme caution

EUNAVFOR urged the vessels to remain vigilant when transiting this area, and report all suspicious incidents.

“Military organizations often request imagery to be taken during any incident and when safe to do so. This should then be sent to MSCHOA and/or UKMTO. A detailed description of vessels, objects, and behaviors observed are vital contributors to the analysis and assessment of the threat environment. Reports should endeavor to provide as much factual detail as possible and avoid speculating when only limited information is available,” the organization said.

The White House also expressed concern about the attack, in particular, as the ship was in the international waters, transiting one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the Bab al-Mandab.

“A significant portion of global trade moves through the Bab al-Mandab every day, including key energy and food supplies,” a statement from the press secretary Sarah Sanders reads.

” We call on the Houthis to cease further escalation and demonstrate their commitment to a peace process by engaging in constructive dialogue.”

Back in January, the coalition informed it managed to foil an attack on another Saudi oil tanker which had been targeted by drone boats carrying explosives, near the Port of Hodeida.

The move followed Houthi movement’s threats to block the Red Sea shipping lane by targeting commercial vessels especially following the coalition’s closure of Red Sea ports back in November last year.

The closure applies to ports under the control of Houthi rebels, namely Hodeidah and Saleef, and followed Saudi Arabia’s interception of a ballistic missile, which targeted Riyadh.

World Maritime News Staff

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