Four commercial vessels have been targeted by ‘acts of sabotage’ around Fujairah Port, UAE on 12 May. The UAE authorities are investigating the incident and have stated that there are no casualties and that each vessel has sustained significant damage to their structure but remain afloat with no spills of fuel or harmful chemicals. The four vessels which were attacked are the Saudi flagged VLCC Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah, A Michel – registered in Sharjah – and the Andrea Victory from Bergen in Norway.
Several Russian and Iranian news outlets quickly reported that 7-10 oil tankers were on fire within the port but this has been denied by the UAE and labeled as ‘fake news’. Hamad Al Rahoomi, a member of the UAE’s Federal National Council, said foreign broadcasters had exaggerated the scale of the incident and claimed that the port was on fire. “It is weak. It was clear this was fake news,” Mr Al Rahoomi said. “Everybody can see the location. Something like that you would have been able to see for miles and miles.”
There are still no clear details of what has happened and no group has yet claimed responsibility. It is also unclear on what caused the damage to the vessels, with some reports suggesting a small projectile munition was used. The likelihood of this incident being state backed is increasingly likely given the recent shift in US and Iranian relations, however in terms of impacts to commercial shipping operations it is unlikely that the risk to the safety of vessels and crews will increase, however the risk of delays to commercial operations in the area have increased along with the potential for interactions with local military forces. There is no current impact on our own operations in the area.