Oil tanker Amjad was damaged by limpet mines, according to enquiry. © AFP/Getty Images
Oil tanker Amjad was damaged by limpet mines, according to enquiry. © AFP/Getty Images

Oil tanker attacks part of 'coordinated operation'

posted by Lucy Patchett
in Risk
11 June 2019

The recent oil tanker attacks in the Gulf were part of targeted operations likely to have been carried out by another country, an investigation by United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities has found.  

Representatives from the UAE, Norway and Saudi Arabia briefed members from the United Nations Security Council on preliminary findings from the investigation into the cause of the attacks on the four oil tankers off the port of Fujairah on 12 May 2019.

The damage caused to two Saudi Aramco oil tankers was most likely inflicted by limpet mines in what is now revealed to be “part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation” carried out by a “state actor”, according to a statement to the UN Security Council.

"Based on the evaluation of radar data, and the short time several of the targeted vessels had been at anchor prior to the attacks, it appears most likely that the mines were placed on the vessels by divers deployed from fast boats," said the statement.

The attacks were highlighted as a threat to “international commercial navigation and the security of global energy supplies” and the UAE invited all council members to assess the investigation findings.

According to the findings, the attacks required the use of "intelligence capabilities" as the four vessels were selected out of almost 200 anchored off the port of Fujairah and would have needed identification.

It is likely that trained divers with knowledge of the design of the targeted ships were used to place explosive charges under the waterline in a strategic way that would damage the vessels "without sinking them or detonating cargo", the investigation found.

The UAE, Norway and Saudi Arabia will also present the findings to the International Maritime Organisation, headquarted in London, and provide information on protective measures that can help safeguard the maritime shipping industry against such incidents.

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