Singapore-registered oil tanker damaged in alleged attack in Saudi Arabia

The oil tanker is operated by Hafnia, a Singapore-headquartered tanker firm. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE - BW Rhine, a Singapore-registered commercial oil tanker, was attacked by an "explosive-laden boat", according to an official spokesman from the Ministry of Energy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

It is yet unclear who was behind the attack and there are no other details about the explosive-laden boat at this point.

The ship was anchored at the Port of Jeddah, a Saudi port. It was reported to be damaged in the early hours of Monday, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a statement on Wednesday (Dec 16).

It suffered hull damage and from a small fire but none of the vessel's 22 crew members - none of them Singaporeans - were injured, said the MFA.

The oil tanker is operated by Hafnia, a Singapore-headquartered tanker firm.

On Monday, Hafnia said in a statement regarding the incident that the tanker was hit while discharging at Jeddah at approximately 12.40am local time that day.

The crew managed to extinguish the fire with assistance from the shore fire brigade and tug boats.

"It is possible that some oil has escaped from the vessel, but this has not been confirmed and instrumentation currently indicates that oil levels on board are at the same level as before the incident," they added.

The incident comes less than three weeks after an oil tanker was damaged in a possible attack at the Saudi terminal of Shuqaiq, south of Jeddah, reported Bloomberg News in an article about the incident on Monday.

While it is still unclear who is responsible for the attack, the Bloomberg report notes that Yemen's Houthi rebels have previously used sea mines to attack ships in Saudi Arabian waters. The Houthis, who are supported by Iran, have been fighting Yemen's United Nations-backed government since 2014. A Saudi-led coalition intervened a year later on the side of the government.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore is currently investigating the incident with the relevant Saudi authorities.

Singapore condemns all attacks on commercial vessels which pose a serious threat to the security and safety of international maritime navigation and trade, added the MFA.

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