Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Possible Attack on Oil Tanker Near Strait of Hormuz

Sketchy early reporting - press release from Mitsui:
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.(MOL, President : Koichi Muto) today reported that at about 5:30 a.m. JST (00:30 local time) on Wednesday, July 28, west of the Strait of Hormuz at 26°27' N 56°14' E (Oman territorial waters), the VLCC M. STAR owned by MOL, suffered hull damage caused by an explosion which seemed to be an attack from external sources.

The degree and details of hull damage are currently under investigation but no serious injury was reported, although one of the crew was slightly injured, and no oil leaked from the hull.
Further, M. STAR continues her voyage, making for the UAE port of Fujairah, where the damage and its causes will be thoroughly investigated.

M. STAR took on crude oil Tuesday, July 27, at the UAE Port of Das Island, after which it departed for Chiba Port in Japan.

Details of M/V M. STAR are as follows:
Gross tonnage 160,292 tons
LOA : 333.00 m
FLAG : Marshal Islands
Built in : 2008
Crew : 15 Indian / 16 Philippine crew
Cargo : Crude oil 270,204 MT

There was an explosion on the starboard side of the ship, which damaged some hatches and one of the lifeboats, said Corey Barker, a spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, speaking by phone from the fleet’s base in Manama, Bahrain. “The cause and extent of the damage is unknown and will be investigated,” he said.
Info on the Strait of Hormuz here:
Located between Oman and Iran, the Strait of Hormuz connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Hormuz is the world's most important oil chokepoint due to its daily oil flow of 16.5-17 million barrels (first half 2008E), which is roughly 40 percent of all seaborne traded oil (or 20 percent of oil traded worldwide). Oil flows averaged over 16.5 million barrels per day in 2006, dropped in 2007 to a little over 16 million barrels per day after OPEC cut production, but rose again in 2008 with rising Persian Gulf supplies.

At its narrowest point the Strait is 21 miles wide, and the shipping lanes consist of two-mile wide channels for inbound and outbound tanker traffic, as well as a two-mile wide buffer zone. The majority of oil exported through the Strait of Hormuz travels to Asia, the United States and Western Europe. Currently, three-quarters of all Japan’s oil needs pass through this Strait. On average, 15 crude oil tankers passed through the Strait of Hormuz daily in 2007, along with tankers carrying other petroleum products and liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Click on maps to enlarge.

UPDATE: In a weird way, Iran rules out terrrorism:
The Managing Director of Iranian Navigation and Ports Organization on Wednesday rules out the possibility of terrorist attack on a Japanese tanker in Persian Gulf, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
"Probably the earthquake has caused such an incident," Ataollah Sadr was quoted as saying.
Talking to Mehr about the blast in Japanese oil tanker, Sadr rejected the possibility of any terrorist attack on the tanker, saying "due to the presence of some inflammable steams and gases on the oil tankers, the possibility of blast cannot be ruled out."
"Based on the dialogues and messages heard from Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC), there has been news about the quake occurrence," Sadr said, referring to the Japanese oil tanker M. Star blasted near the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday, leaving one person slightly injured.
Maybe something got lost in translation.


  1. "Probably the earthquake has caused such an incident,"...

    Back to zero; we have obviously failed to consider a probable earthquake in connection with investigating our non-terrorist, 9-11 disaster. What a forensic faux pas!

  2. Information so far. V unlikely a mine - no damage to machinery compartment starboard aft. Proceeded under own power. Unlikely to be a missile from Iran with the tanker heading approx 045 out of the Gulf and damage on the 'lee' side. No seismic activity in the area since saturday according to USGS so no earthquake induced wave. Money is on an internal event.

  3. Update: The photo certainly looks like wave damage and very localised, but caused by what? Starboard lifeboard missing from davits above by wave traveling upward from the hull impact area. Weather was benign in the area, nothing above 30 knts and low sea state. Would need substantial seismic activity to cause such surface activity over such confined waters. Flash then an impact may indicate nearby meteorite impact with the sea - I know its far fetched but meets the critria.

  4. could there possibly be an attack sub with a matching dent on its sail??? Its happened before...