The New Year started with rather peculiar shipping news as an oil tanker in Iraq has found its hull loaded with explosives. The incident once again highlighted the risks of shipping in the Arabian peninsula.
Suspicious Object on the Hull
Apparently, the Liberian flagged vessel was discharging cargo onto a ship when it noticed a suspicious object on the ship’s hull, revealed the shipowner Dynacom Tankers Management in a statement issued to the media. The company also said that the crew is safe and no harm has been done so far.
Further investigation revealed that the suspicious object is a bomb which was subsequently defused by an explosives team from the Iraqi Naval force.
So far there hasn’t been any clarity on the nature of the crime and who did it.
The vessel in question, Pola, is a Suezmax anchored on the Red Sea since November 7. The ship was being used as floating storage.
It was carrying cargo to Nordic American Tankers Ltd owned Nordic Freedom when the explosives were found.
According to officials, the ship is used for offshore oil purchase and doesn’t belong to any Iraqi export terminals.
Security Threat in the Region
In recent years, the region between the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea have been torn in Iran-Saudi Arabia tensions which have posed security threats for ships plying on these waters. Most recently, terrorists attacked a ship on the Red Sea, near the Jeddah port, reported Saudi Arabia. This happened weeks before another attack on an oil tanker.
However, the region has received heightened security because of US sanctions in Iran.
The incident was identified by UK Maritime Trade Operations which mediates maritime operations between the Royal Navy and merchant vessels in high security concern areas. However, they didn’t name the Pola or specify the nature of the suspicious object on the hull. Maritime security experts suspected it to be a limpet mine which are often used to fasten ships.
A spokeswoman revealed that the US Fifth fleet which was near the location couldn’t add any other details other than what’s specified in the UKMTO notice.