An oil tanker in the Red Sea has been subject of a mysterious attack while it was anchored at the Saudi port city of Shuqaiq on the Red Sea, reportedly after a mine exploded.
The vessel has been identified in Bloomberg as the Maltese-flagged, Greek-managed Aframax tanker Agrari which early unconfirmed reports are saying was "attacked while at a berth" according to a statement on behalf of its owner TMS Tankers.
The statement further said that attack was from "an unknown source" just as as the tanker was undergoing preparation to depart, and it's further said to be stable with no cargo on board, however the ship was breached by the blast.
Early reports are suggesting a mine may have been placed on the ship's hull.
#BREAKING: Mine explodes, damaging Agrari oil tanker off Saudi Arabia near Yemen border in Red Sea: tanker suffered breat but no reported polltuion according to TMS tankers— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) November 25, 2020
Maritime news analyst Will Collins describes of the incident:
The Aframax tanker Agrari was "attacked by an unknown source" early this morning, while at berth in the Red Sea port of Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia, and suffered a breach, ship management company TMS Tankers said.
TMS Tankers, which manages the 107,000 deadweight tonne (dwt) tanker, said it was struck one metre above the waterline and breached, having discharged at the port and while preparing to depart. The tanker transported a fuel oil cargo from Ventspils, Latvia to Shuqaiq, arriving on 23 November, according to oil analytics firm Vortexa.
The Red Sea, which remains among the world's busiest shipping channels, has in recent years witnessed military tensions and incidents between Saudi Arabia and Yemen's Houthi rebels amidst the civil war that has been raging for at least five years there.
APNewsAlert: DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (@AP) _ Private security firm says mine explodes, damaging oil tanker off Saudi Arabia near Yemen border in Red Sea.— Jon Gambrell جون (@jongambrellAP) November 25, 2020
The latter is said to be backed and supplied by Iran, which raises the question of whether this attack is connected to rising tensions also centered on speculation that Trump may be planning some kind of preemptive military strike on the Islamic Republic just before leaving the White House in January.