update: It's been confirmed that the earlier 'mystery' blast of a ship in the Gulf of Oman took place on the Israeli-owned cargo ship Helios Ray. Israel is already reportedly looking at possible Iranian involvement as tensions rise between both countries over the Islamic Republic's alleged nuclear program.
"Officials from the security firm Dryad that was securing the ship are reportedly looking into the possibility of Iranian military being involved in the mysterious incident, suspicions that have increased among Israeli security officials investigating the incident," Bloomberg reports.
It's owned by Tel Aviv-based Ray Shipping. The crew is said to be safe as the vessel heads to the nearest port to assess damage.
Early photos of damage to the vessel are below. The 'mystery' blast is shaping up to appear similar to the mysterious limpet mine attacks in the Persian Gulf of summer 2019.
تصاویر انفجار کشتی اسرائیلی"هلیوس ریHELIOS RAY"— S e p i d e h ² (@SARA_SEPIDEH) February 26, 2021
این انفجار مرموز باعث ایجاد سوراخ هایی در پهلوی راست کشتی هلیوس ری شده، که نشان می دهد احتمالا ناشی از انفجار مین دریایی بوده.
اگه مشخص بشه کار سپاه تروریستی بوده که دخلشون اومده https://t.co/kWLJhjPJ4Z pic.twitter.com/LA3BaBibc6
File image of the Helios Ray, which is being described as a car carrier:
"The US navy said it was monitoring the situation, while US-backed International Maritime Security Construct said an investigation was ongoing and that its ships were monitoring the situation," according to shipping news source Trade Winds.
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The International Maritime Security Construct tweets that the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) is aware of a report "of an explosion on a non-IMSC flagged merchant vessel in the Gulf of Oman." The incident occurred at 20:40 GMT on Thursday.
@IMSC_Sentinel is aware of a UKMTO report of explosion on non-IMSC flagged merchant vessel in the Gulf of Oman. Investigations are ongoing. UKMTO advises caution. CTF Sentinel will continue to monitor the situation.— IMSC - International Maritime Security Construct (@IMSC_Sentinel) February 26, 2021
More Details: https://t.co/B0c1RtqkNx pic.twitter.com/kWw7uFrjTE
UKMTO said, "investigations are ongoing. Vessel and crew are reported to be safe and proceeding to next port of call."
UKMTO's advisory notice shows the location of where the explosion occurred. It warned other vessels in the Gulf of Oman to "exercise caution."
UKMTO did not provide any details on what caused the explosion.
Ambrey Intelligence tweets:
"Yesterday at around 20:40 UTC, a vehicles carrier experienced an explosion while underway eastbound in the Gulf of Oman. Ambrey assess the vessel was possibly targeted due to its #Israel Flag of Israel and #UK Flag of United Kingdom affiliations."
#MarineWarRisk: Yesterday at around 20:40 UTC, a vehicles carrier experienced an explosion while underway eastbound in the Gulf of Oman. Ambrey assess the vessel was possibly targeted due to its #Israel 🇮🇱 and #UK 🇬🇧 affiliations. Read more about this incident on the Ambrey MRI. pic.twitter.com/25nakMJmX7— Ambrey Intelligence (@Ambrey_Intel) February 26, 2021
Maritime Bulletin believes "HELIOS RAY reportedly suffered an explosion on board in the Gulf of Oman." Current vessel movements show the car carrier has turned around.
AP News reports the US Navy has been made aware of the incident and closely monitors the situation.