Two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz were attacked amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
The assault left one tanker ablaze while sailors were evacuated from both vessels, the report noted. Benchmark Brent crude oil jumped nearly 4% in trading following the reported attack — nearly a third of all oil traded via sea lanes passes through the strait, a small section of the Persian Gulf.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Thursday before the assault that “America could not do anything” to stop Iran from creating nuclear weapons, although he did dismiss claims that Iran is seeking such an arsenal. His comments came during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was there to de-escalate tensions.
The U.S. Navy was assisting the two ships that were being hit in a “reported attack,” Cmdr. Joshua Frey, a 5th Fleet spokesman, told reporters following the assault. He did not say who was responsible for the attack or how it was perpetrated.
An explosion was the cause of the fire onboard the Front Altair, International Tanker Management, the vessel managing the ship, told reporters. Its crew of 23 is safe after being evacuated by the Hyundai Dubai vessel, the vessel’s crew said.
The other ship was identified as the Kokuka Courageous, which sustained hull damage and 21 sailors had been evacuated, BSM Ship Management told reporters. Iranian state television said 44 sailors from the two tankers have been transferred to an Iranian port.
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