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UK Navy Group Says an Oil Tanker Was 'Potentially Hijacked' Near the UAE

Nearby oil tankers said they were 'not under command.'

UK Navy Group Says an Oil Tanker Was 'Potentially Hijacked' Near the UAE
An oil tanker. Mohan R / Wikimedia

Some waters are treacherous.

The U.K.'s Navy warned of a potential hijack of one one or several oil tankers near the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman, according to an initial report from AP News.

While there remains no elaboration on the responsible party, nearby oil tankers said via Automatic Identification System trackers that they were "not under command," according to MarineTraffic.com.

In other words, this incident could involve more than one oil tanker.

Correction: Oil Tankers, not a UK naval vessel, possibly hijacked

An earlier version of this article stated a U.K. Navy vessel was potentially hijacked. This was corrected to reflect that it is in fact oil tankers. The ship is located roughly 60 miles (97 km) east of Fujairah, where a group of nine people is suspected of boarding the vessel, called the Asphalt Princess, according to another report from Sky News. "It was an unauthorized boarding in the Gulf of Oman," said a security source in the report.

UK Navy: 'Potential hijack' of oil tanker

The United Kindom's Maritime Trade Operations announced on Tuesday that "an incident is currently underway" near the coast of Fujairah, and a few hours later they added the scenario had become a "potential hijack." The United States' 5th Fleet, which is based in the Middle East, has yet to announce action taken on the matter, and neither has the British Defense Ministery. Earlier on Tuesday, four oil tankers said via their Automatic Identification System trackers that the ships were "not under command," which usually means a vessel is not powered, and so can't steer or change its course. But one of them resumed moving later.

No link between the UK and oil tankers, Iran denies involvement

In an apparent reaction to the developing incident, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency reported that Saeed Khatibzadeh, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said the maritime attacks in the region were "completely suspicious," denying any involvement from Iran in the potential hijacking situation. "Iran's naval forces are ready for help and rescue in the region," said Khatibzadeh, in the IRNA report, according to AP News. This comes days after a drone slammed into an oil tanker associated with an Israeli billionaire near the coast of Oman, leaving two crew members dead. Authorities in the West were quick to blame Iran for the drone impact, in what marked the first known attack to leave civilians dead after a yearslong shadow war against commercial vessels in the area.

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Iran has denied any responsibility for the drone impact, but Tehran and its associates have used "suicide" drones in earlier attacks. Close to the Gulf of Oman is the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow entryway into the Persian Gulf, through which one-fifth of all global oil is transported. The closest city to the reported hijacking, Fujairah, is on the east coast of the UAE, and serves as a primary port for the region, where ships take on new oil cargo and supplies, and swap crew members. While there is no link between the U.K. and the initial oil tanker reported by the British Navy, this marks a minor but nevertheless significant disruption of the world's shipping.

This was a breaking story and was regularly updated as new information became available.

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