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Frontline: cause of tanker explosion unknown

Stricken: the crude oil tanker Front Altair seen after the fire aboard was extinguished yesterday (Photograph by Frontline)

Frontline Ltd, the Bermudian-based oil tanker operator whose Front Altair vessel burst into flames in the Strait of Hormuz after an explosion, today said the fire has been put out with no pollution and that all crew members are safe.

The ship was one of two tankers in the area to be left stricken by explosions that the US Government has blamed on Iran. The company said the cause of the incident remained unknown.

In a statement released this afternoon, Frontline said: “Most importantly, the 23 crew members on-board the Front Altair are unharmed after being rescued by the cargo vessel Hyundai Dubai and subsequently carried by an Iranian naval vessel to the port city of Jask.

“We commend our highly-trained crew, the vessel master and ship managers, for following protocol and operating according to the highest standard during this distressing and very serious incident. Frontline is profoundly grateful to all parties who have contributed to ensuring the safety of our colleagues.”

Emergency responders put out the fire on the vessel within hours of the incident and ensured no pollution resulted, Frontline said.

The vessel remains afloat and is being attended to by a salvage vessel.

Frontline added: “The company’s modern vessels are designed to withstand catastrophic events in order to ensure the safety of crew and cargo.”

A rescue tug reached the Front Altair today and two further support vessels will arrive on scene tomorrow with a specialist team to inspect the tanker and make recommendations.

“The cause of the explosion remains unknown to the company, although we have ruled out the possibility that it was caused by mechanical or human error,” Frontline stated.

“The incident will be thoroughly investigated by the company along with third parties, including governmental officials, to determine the cause.”

Frontline added: “The Strait of Hormuz is one of the most densely trafficked sea routes in the world and serves as the passageway for greater than 25 per cent of the world’s seaborne crude oil.

“As geopolitical tensions rise in the Persian Gulf, the company is intensely focused on the safety of our colleagues in this region.

“Until further information is received regarding the cause of the explosion and the security of this important shipping lane is secured, Frontline will exercise extreme caution when considering new contracts in the region and the company will consider all possible measures to insure the safety of our vessels currently operating in the area.

“The company is consulting with regional security experts to ensure the safety of our crew, our vessels and our cargo.”