Ship hijacked off UAE coast declared safe

MV Asphalt Princess is declared safe after boarders disembark, UKMTO says.

Chana Roberts , | updated: 8:36 AM

The MV Mercer Street was attacked near Oman last week.
The MV Mercer Street was attacked near Oman last week.
Johan Victor/Handout via REUTERS

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) on Wednesday morning reported that the boarders have left the MV Asphalt Princess and the vessel is safe.

The report added that "the incident has concluded."

The MV Asphalt Princess, sailing under the flag of Panama, had been reported by BBC as heading towards the Strait of Hormuz. The report quoted the Lloyds List Maritime Intelligence.

The ship is one of five which lost connection Tuesday afternoon after a ship collided with an underwater mine or other weapon. The ships initially declared that they were unable to steer, but one of the ships later began moving again, AP noted.

On Tuesday, it was reported that "eight to nine" militants had forced their way onto one of the five ships, which was later identified as the Asphalt Princess, a bituman tanker.

According to BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner, the Asphalt Princess is owned by a Dubai-based company that two years ago experienced a similar incident at the hands of the Revolutionary Guards.

Gardner also said that up to nine people boarded the Asphalt Princess as it neared the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz.

It is not yet clear who seized the ship.

Iran has firmly denied any connection to the incident, with the Revolutionary Guards claiming that, "According to information from security sources, Iran's armed forces and all branches of the Islamic Resistance in the Middle East have nothing to do with the incident in the Gulf of Oman."

It claimed the incident was a move by Western countries and Israel "to prepare the public opinion of the international community for hostile action against the honorable nation of Iran."

Last week, Iran attacked an Israeli-managed vessel near the coast of Oman. Two of the MV Mercer Street's crew members, a British citizen and a Romanian citizen, were killed in the attack.

Iran has denied involvement in the incident, but according to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, there is "solid proof" that Iran is the responsible party, and "no one has any doubt who is behind the incident."



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