Thursday, June 13, 2019

Tanker Attacks Off Iran - Iran's Response to Trade Restrictions?

In what certainly seems an escalating series of "tit for tat" attacks on ships in Arabian Gulf area, Tradewinds News reports Frontline and Schulte tankers attacked off Fujairah:

IRIB News Photos
Two tankers operated by Frontline and Bernhard Schulte have reportedly been the subject of a "torpedo" attack off Fujairah in the UAE, according to broking and ship agency sources on Thursday.

The 110,000-dwt LR2 Front Altair (built 2016) is carrying naphtha produced by Abu Dhabi National Oil Co to Taiwan, having lifted the cargo from Ruwais on 11 June.

According to Taiwan CPC, trading house Ocean Energy has chartered the vessel to transport the cargo to the Taiwanese refiner.
U.S. Fifth Fleet reports:
We are aware of the reported attack on shipping vessels in the Gulf of Oman. U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local (Bahrain) time and a second one at 7:00 a.m. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) rendered assistance.
In the background of this is a report of damage to ships in port Iran, as set out in Mysterious Blazes on Six Iranian Ships in Iranian Ports:
IRNA photo
As the strategic port of Shahid Rajaee, north of the Strait of Hormuz, was still dealing with the effects of a huge fire that caused serious destruction, Iranian media reported2 that six Iranian ships were ablaze in several ports in the southern part of the country.3

The Iranian Republic News Agency reported that on June 7, 2019, four merchant ships caught fire in the port of Nakhl Taqi (Taghi) in the Asaluyeh region of Bushehr Province. Three ships were burned entirely, while two others in Asaluyeh suffered major damage. While the governor of Asaluyeh claimed the fires were extinguished without anyone harmed, the head of the emergency rooms in Bushehr Province said that several civilians and sailors had been injured and brought to hospitals in the region. The mayor of the town of Delvar, near the port of Bualhir, confirmed that one vessel in the port burned completely.
Which was, of course, preceded by May 13, 2019, damage to ships in UAE ports US Official: Explosives Blew Holes in Ships off UAE:
UAE photos
A U.S. official says military experts believe explosives blew holes in four ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates Sunday, and suspects Iran may be involved but they have no proof.

Two of the oil tankers belong to Saudi Arabia, which says the ships suffered "significant damage" in what it and the UAE calls sabotage.

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said the attack was meant to undermine "the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world."
Yes, well, not the first "tanker war" in the area.

I don't mind pointing fingers at the Iranians or their surrogates, as the situation does seem to show that Iran is a little peeved over sanctions.

Probably not at this stage yet, though:
Of course, the start of WWI comes to mind.


  1. LR2 Front Altair may have been the primary target. Do NORK or PLAN subs visit Iran much?

  2. I highly recommend that folks read this book:
    "Tanker War: America's First Conflict with Iran, 1907-1988"

  3. Thanks for providing excellent context.

  4. Anonymous2:51 PM

    Fortunately, nobody got hurt so far. Worrisome that Iran took one of the crews off a ship that had picked them up.