Suspected vessel attacks in Gulf of Oman

Credit: SCHWARZ, MALTE

Suspected attacks on two vessels, Kokuka Courageous  and Front Altair in the Gulf of Oman this morning have resulted in a total of 44 crew members abandoning ship. Although details of the incident are still emerging, current information points to mines or torpedoes as being the most likely causes of damage to both vessels.

The 27,000 dwt products carrier Kokuka Courageous, which has a cargo of methanol has reported hull damage to its starboard side and crew are said to have averted an engine room fire before they left the vessel. At time of press, the vessel was about 70 n miles (130 km) from Fujairah and about 14 n miles from the coast of Iran.

The tanker is crewed by Singapore-based BSM Ship Management, which said, “The master and crew abandoned ship and were quickly rescued from a lifeboat by the vessel Coastal Ace, a nearby vessel. One crew man from the Kokuka Courageous was slightly injured in the incident and is receiving first aid on board the Coastal Ace. The Kokuka Courageous remains in the area and is not in any danger of sinking. The cargo of methanol is intact.” The ship manager has launched a full-scale emergency response and declined to give further information when approached by Safety at Sea. The Coastal Ace is now awaiting instructions from the UK Marine Trade Operations, which is responding to the incident.

IHS Markit data shows that the crew of the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous is almost exclusively Filipino and that the vessel was involved in a piracy incident back in 2014, when the vessel was boarded in the Visakhapatnam Anchorage in India.

Accurate information about the state of the 2016-built 109,894 dwt crude tanker Front Altair that was transporting a cargo of Naptha to Taiwan at the time of the incident is less readily available. The vessel, which saw 23 crew abandon ship after an onboard fire, has been reported by some local media to have sunk, while others claim that it is still afloat. Sources on Twitter claiming to be on site indicate that the hull has been breached and the naptha escaping the vessel is on fire.

The Front Altair is owned by Frontline 2012 and flagged with the Marshall Islands. IHS Markit data shows that the crew consists of a mixture of Russian officers and Filipino ratings. All crew members are reported to have survived the incident and safe from harm.