UPDATE: Tanker “safe” after hijack reported off UAE coast
The armed group who seized a tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has left the targeted ship, the British navy reported.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations revealed that the incident, which was described as a “potential hijack”, was now “complete.”
The group said that the vessel is now safe, without providing any further details.
UKMTO initially reported a “non-piracy” incident on the unidentified ship before updating its description. The incident occurred off the UAE coast, approximately 60 nautical miles from Fujairah.
Maritime security analysts at Dryad Global have identified the ship as the bitumen tanker Asphalt Princess.
The 9,700 dwt tanker is 134 meters long and currently sailing under the Panama flag. The ship’s owner is Dubai-based shipping company Prime Tankers.
The vessel started its voyage at the Port of Khor al Fakkan in the UAE and it was traveling to Sohar, a port on Oman’s northern coast when the incident occurred.
Reuters noted, citing Refinitiv ship tracking data, that at least five ships in the sea between the UAE and Iran updated their AIS tracking status to “Not Under Command” on the same day.
British officials worked on an assumption that Iran was involved in the incident; however, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh denied that Iran played any role.