The British authorities are growing conscious of the unwrapped situation of a potential threat of attack and hijacking of a vessel. Therefore, the international bodies are monitoring the warning site 60 miles east of Fujairah (a city in UAE) in the Gulf of Oman. Controversial reports started flooding after the British authorities claimed that the investigations are pointing towards an Iranian made assault. Iran in counter showed their preparedness to offer support to any distressed vessel.
Vessels operating in that region have received a brief warning from the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), addressing the present situation. The happening has got tagged as a potential hijacking and not a piracy play. Also, according to them, they received reports from an unidentified third party which made them investigate and upgrade the reports as a potential hijacking.
The vessel was recognized by both the security advisory - Dryad Global and Aurora International, as a Panama registered bitumen-asphalt tanker: Asphalt princess (9,748 DWT). The vessel was transiting the waters between UAE and Oman. Prime Tankers of Dubai is the operator of the vessel. The same kind of Incident happened back in 2019 with the same company reporting Iran accused of Hijacking one of the company's vessels. To which the Iranian authorities replied that they were towing an abandoned vessel to port.
The recent AIS data and reports have found the vessel nearly at Halt, with coordinates matching the centre of the Gulf of Oman. The vessel is reported, though unconfirmed, to be sailing towards Iran after eight to nine armed men embarked the vessel, claims BBC.
However, Aurora International and the Royal Air Force of Oman are keeping close track of the vessel that remains circling overhead. British and American forces are also believed to be doing the same.
Ned Price, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said, “we are aware of the reports of a maritime incident in the Gulf of Oman. We are concerned. We are looking into it.”
Moreover, earlier in the day, more than five or six tankers in the same depot have been facing serious issues regarding their navigations [unconfirmed reports]. The speculations touched on every possibility including a cyberattack on vessels of the same region. However, later reports confirmed that two vessels have resolved their respective issues and are underway.
The British officials are functioning on the assumptions of Iranian military boarding the vessel, claims the Times of London. The Foreign Ministry of Iran turned the accusations claiming them to be suspicious and undiscovered allegations. Further, the Iranian officials accused the western superiors of “creating a false atmosphere”. They also refrained from the reports from last week's Japanese tanker mishap, in which an attack on the Israeli operated vessel was carried out, killing the captain and a security officer.
The captain of the vessel was a proclaimed Romanian nationalist, who led the country to create statements condemning Iran. The government in Tehran retaliated by summoning the Romanian ambassador and demanded that erroneous allegations be withdrawn. The US Navy accompanied the tanker to a secure harbour following what was thought to be a drone strike, where the inquiry is underway.
Both the United States and the United Kingdom accused Iran of the prior assaults and for inflaming tensions in the area. They demanded a concerted international reaction to Iran's regional aggressiveness.