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‘Potential Hijack’ of Ship Near Iran, British Navy Says


The British navy said there was a “potential hijack” of a ship Tuesday off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman near Iran.

A branch of the navy first warned Tuesday morning that “an incident is currently underway” off the coast of Fujairah, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations. A few hours later authorities said the incident was a “potential hijack” of the Asphalt Princess, a Panama-flagged asphalt tanker, according to the Associated Press.

Six oil tankers earlier announced with their Automatic Identification System trackers that they were “not under command,” according to the AP, meaning the ships had likely lost power and were unable to navigate.

Experts say that hijacking can lead to multiple ships losing steering and power at the same time.

“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, according to the AP. “Not all the vessels would lose their engines or their capability to steer at the same time.”

A maritime patrol aircraft, the Oman Royal Air Force Airbus, flew out to monitor the situation and saw one of the vessels later begin moving again, according to the AP.

The governments of the U.S., the U.K. and Israel accused Iran Thursday night of a drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman. The attack killed two workers from the U.K. and Romania, the AP reported.

Iran denied any involvement, the AP reported. 

In May, the U.S. Coast Guard fired around 30 warning shots at a group of Iranian boats in May.

A group of 13 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy “fast attack boats” conducting “unprofessional” maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz came within 150 yards of six U.S. Navy boats escorting a guided missile submarine, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said

Middle East experts are concerned that Iran will be able to have nuclear capabilities in the near future.

Iran began enriching uranium to 60% purity in April, which is still short of the 90% needed for weapons-grade enrichment.

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