Iran said its navy had rescued 44 crew members after the two vessels. The US Fifth Fleet said its warships had received distress calls from both vessels in a “reported attack”. The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker, a 111,000-tonne vessel, was carrying a cargo of ethanol from Qatar to Taiwan. 23 of the crew jumped into the water and were saved by a passing ship. An hour after the first accident the second ship caught fire at 9:50am 28 nautical miles off the port.
The Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous was headed to Singapore from Saudi Arabia with a cargo of methanol, and 21 of its crew jumped and were rescued. Thursday’s incident comes one month after a series of presumed mysterious “acts of sabotage” targeted four commercial vessels. Tehran said it has dispatched a helicopter from the port of Bandar-e-Jask to the ships’ location for “further investigation”. Saudi King Salman earlier this month warned a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation that “terrorist” attacks in the Gulf region could imperil global oil supplies.