Two damaged tankers arrived safely Sunday at locations off the UAE coast after they were rocked by explosions in Gulf waters.
The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous was carrying highly flammable methanol through the Gulf of Oman on Thursday when it came under attack along with the Norwegian-operated Front Altair – the second assault in a month in the strategic shipping lane.
US President Donald Trump has said the operation had Iran “written all over it” – rejecting Tehran’s denial – and its key Gulf ally Saudi Arabia has also lashed out against Tehran.
In his first public comments since the attacks, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in remarks published Sunday that he would not hesitate to tackle any threats to the oil-rich kingdom.
“We do not want a war in the region… But we won’t hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests,” he told Asharq Al Awsat.
He said Iran had responded to a visit to Tehran by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese”.
The crew of the Kokuka Courageous saw a “flying object” before a second blast on board, the operator’s head said Friday.
The vessel’s Singapore-based BSM Ship Management said in a statement Sunday that it had “arrived safely at the designated anchorage” and that its crew were “safe and well”.
The other ship, the Front Altair, was under safe tow by tug boats towards an area off the coast of the eastern Emirati port of Fujairah.
“First inspections are under way and no hot spots have been identified following the fire,” the vessel’s owners said in a statement Sunday.
It said all crew members were in Dubai, where they will “assist with the debrief to the owner’s legal team and the appropriate authorities, before returning home”.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, on Saturday called on world powers “to secure international navigation and access to energy”.
Thursday’s attacks took place southeast of the Strait of Hormuz, a vital corridor connecting the energy-rich states of the Middle East to the global market.
Iran, which is struggling with crippling US sanctions, has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact countermeasure to any attack by the United States.
Attacks on Saudi Arabia by Yemeni rebels have further fuelled tensions in the region.
On Friday, the kingdom intercepted five drones launched by the Houthi rebels, a Riyadh-led coalition said, in a second assault on an airport in the country’s southwest in two days.
The drones targeted Abha airport, where a rebel missile on Wednesday left 26 civilians wounded, and the nearby city of Khamis Mushait, which houses a major airbase, the coalition said.
A Yemeni rebel drone targeting Abha was also intercepted Saturday, but it caused no casualties or damage.