Video: U.S. Navy sent into action after oil tankers attacked in tense Middle East waterway

Two oil tankers were damaged in a suspected attack off the Gulf of Oman early Thursday, prompting the rescue of dozens of crew members.

The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet told Reuters it was assisting two tankers in the Gulf of Oman after receiving two distress calls. Details of the incident were unclear, but one of the operators made an unconfirmed report that a torpedo had hit its ship, Reuters reported.

“We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7:00 a.m.,” Joshua Frey of the Fifth Fleet said. The Fleet did not blame anyone for the attack.

One of the vessels involved was identified as the MT Front Altair, a Marshall Islands-flagged but Norwegian-owned crude oil tanker carrying naphtha, a petrochemical product, to Japan.

Dramatic images and video of the Altair were subsequently released by Iranian state media.

International Tanker Management, which operates the MT Front Altair said an explosion had caused a fire onboard. The firm told the Associated Press the incident is still being investigated and it was unclear what caused the explosion. Its 23 crew members were evacuated by the nearby South Korean-based Hyundai Dubai Vessel and are now safe, the firm said.

Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA, claimed the Front Altair had sunk, but the Norwegian shipping firm Frontline said it was still afloat…

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