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Tankers in Gulf blasts have Bermuda links

Maritime incident: an oil tanker on fire in the sea of Oman, Two tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked today (Photograph by ISNA/AP)

Two oil tankers that were apparently attacked in the Gulf of Oman today have links to Bermuda.

The Front Altair, which is operated by Bermudian-headquartered Frontline, suffered three explosions and was on fire. Its 23 crew members have been rescued.

The tanker was said to have been carrying 75,000 tonnes of the petrochemical product naphtha.

Robert Hvide Macleod, Frontline Management’s chief executive officer, told shipping newspaper TradeWinds: “We don’t know the reason for the explosion and work to clarify through thorough investigations.”

The Royal Gazette, was unable to reach the Norwegian company’s management offices in Oslo, and no details were available from its Hamilton office, or an operations branch in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker was being chartered by Taiwan’s state oil refiner CPC. It was off the coast of Fujairah, in the United Arab Emirates, when the incident occurred.

The other vessel damaged was the Kokuka Courageous. It was reported to have a breach of its hull above the waterline. The crew was evacuated from the ship.

The Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned tanker is operated by Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement through its Singapore office, and was transporting methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement also has an office in Hamilton.

It is not clear what caused the blasts in the separate incidents.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is part of the Royal Navy, said it was aware of the incident involving the two tankers and is advising ships moving through the area to exercise extreme caution.

Today’s incidents come a month after another four tankers were damaged in the same region, in what has been called a “sophisticated and coordinated operation”. At the time, the US accused Iran of direct involvement in those incidents, an accusation Iran denied.

A senior Iranian official today told the BBC that the country has no connection with today’s incident.