Unidentified Armed Men Board Vessel Anchored in Gulf of Oman, UK Maritime Service Says

© REUTERS / Hamad I MohammedOil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz, December 21, 2018.
Oil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz, December 21, 2018. - Sputnik International
The current status of the ship remains unknown, but the service reported that it is now anchored at a different location.

UK Maritime Trade Operations, a Royal Navy service monitoring the situation in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Arabian Sea regions, has reported that a vessel anchored in the Gulf of Oman was boarded by unidentified armed men on 14 April, with the service being informed of the incident at 12:28 GMT. The UKMTO didn't reveal the source of the information.

The UKTMO further stated that the vessel was "reported" to be anchored at a different location - approximately three nautical miles (5.5 kilometres) from the port of Ras Al Kuh, in Iran’s Hormozgan province. The UK Navy service stated about an hour later that the vessel had been "released" and is now controlled by "the Master". The UKTMO added that the ship and crew are safe, but advised all nearby vessels to stay vigilant.

No further information about the incident, including the ship's name, its fate, or the identities of the armed boarders, is available at the moment. Reuters reported, citing the maritime security firm Dryad Global, that the vessel in question is likely a Hong Kong-flagged ship which stayed on anchor awaiting to approach the port of Jubail in Saudi Arabia. The same vessel later moved closer to the Iranian coast until stopping again. Dryad Global said that it's currently unclear if the "vessel is in distress or is being assisted by Iran in some way".

The Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf saw a series of attacks by unknown perpetrators last year that left several tankers belonging to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Norway, Japan, and Iran damaged. The hulls of the ships apparently survived explosive blasts above their waterlines.

Sailors stand on deck of the Japanese destroyer Suzutsuki as it prepares to dock at a port in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong Province, Sunday, April 21, 2019 - Sputnik International
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Back then, the US accused Iran of the attacks, but failed to provide credible substantiating proof. Tehran has denied the allegations. Later, Iran's own vessels suffered similar attacks in the Red Sea and had to undergo repairs in order to return home.

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