International efforts escalated to uncover the circumstances of the hijacking of the marine tanker called “Asphalt Princess”, flying the flag of Panama in international waters in the Arabian Sea.
On Wednesday, the Sultanate of Oman announced that the Royal Navy will operate a number of its fleet ships to contribute to securing international waters in the region.
Confirming that the tanker was kidnapped in the Arabian Sea after the British Maritime Trade Authority said that those who boarded a tanker had left it and that the ship was safe after maritime sources indicated that it had been seized off the coast of the UAE.
The Omani statement came through an official source at the Maritime Security Center, stressing the center’s keenness on its commitment to contribute to ensuring the safety of maritime navigation along with the rest of the maritime security centers in the region. The statement indicated that the Royal Air Force of Oman is conducting sorties near the site.
Mystery arose about the fate of the tanker, the Princess Asphalt. A few hours after the accident, Reuters reported, quoting three members of the Maritime Security Forces that suspected Iranian-backed forces had seized the tanker.
According to Refinitiv ship traffic monitoring data, the tanker was “on its way and using its engine” early Wednesday morning. Britain’s Maritime Trade said the potential hijacking had ended but did not give further details in a warning notice that cited a third-party source.
This happened in an area in the Arabian Sea that leads to the Strait of Hormuz, through which about a fifth of the world’s seaborne oil exports passes.
Earlier, the British “Lloyd’s List” magazine reported that armed men boarded the oil tanker and ordered it to head to Iran. It said the ship was heading to Iran after it was seized by militants, with British and American ships monitoring the situation.
“Armed forces boarded the ship, which had lastly located it, around five o’clock in the evening London time, and directed it towards Iran,” Richard Mead, editor of the website specialized in shipping, told The Times.
The Financial Times reported that US forces went to the area during the night to verify the matter, but the Fifth Fleet of the US Army stationed in the Middle East did not comment on the incident, according to international news agencies.