6 ships in Gulf of Oman lose control, days after vessel attacked by drones

Reports say Iranian-backed forces may have seized Asphalt Princess tanker; British military calls it a ‘potential hijack’

The Israeli-linked Japanese-owned tanker MT Mercer Street is seen off the port of the Gulf Emirate of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates on August 3, 2021. (Karim SAHIB / AFP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — At least six ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates broadcast warnings Tuesday that they had lost control of their steering under unclear circumstances as British authorities reported “a potential hijack” was underway in the area.

It wasn’t immediately clear what was happening off the coast of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman.

According to the Reuters news agency, which quoted two security maritime sources, Iranian-backed forces were believed to have seized one of the tankers.

 

Shipping authority Lloyd’s List and maritime intelligence firm Dryad Global both identified the vessel involved as Panama-flagged asphalt tanker Asphalt Princess. The vessel’s owner, listed as Emirati free zone-based Glory International, could not immediately be reached for comment late Tuesday.

The six vessels announced around the same time via their Automatic Identification System trackers that they were “not under command,” according to MarineTraffic.com. That typically means a vessel has lost power and can no longer steer.

“At the same time, if they are in the same vicinity and in the same place, then very rarely that happens,” said Ranjith Raja, an oil and shipping expert with data firm Refintiv. “Not all the vessels would lose their engines or their capability to steer at the same time.”

One of the vessels later began moving.

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When Israel and Arab nations unite, world should take note, says UN ambassador

 Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan reflected on 2020 and how “Israel’s future looks brighter than ever” in his address on Sunday night at the Zionist Organization of America’s Virtual Superstar Gala.

Erdan, also Israel’s incoming ambassador to the United States, received the ZOA’s Woo KaiSheng Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Diplomacy. In his acceptance speech, he said that while this past year “supplied a fair amount of hate, it also delivered a fair amount of peace.”

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