Iraq team working to ‘neutralize’ mine found on oil tanker

Iraq team working to 'neutralize' mine found on oil tanker

BAGHDAD – An Iraqi explosives-handling workforce is working to neutralize a “massive” mine found on an oil tanker within the Persian Gulf and evacuate its crew, authorities stated Friday.

The assertion got here a day after two non-public safety corporations stated sailors feared they’d discovered a limpet mine on the MT Pola, a Liberian-flagged tanker within the waters off the Iraqi port of Basra. A limpet mine is a kind of naval mine that attaches to the facet of a ship, often by a diver-member of particular forces. It later explodes, and might considerably harm a vessel.

The Iraqi assertion stated the mine had been hooked up to a tanker rented from Iraq’s Oil Advertising Firm SOMO that was refueling one other vessel. Iraq’s naval forces have been making “an amazing effort to perform the mission” safely, stated Iraq’s Safety Media Cell, which is affiliated with the nation’s safety forces.

It was the primary official Iraqi affirmation {that a} mine was found on an Iraqi tanker transferring gasoline within the Persian Gulf to a different vessel. It didn’t establish both vessels or present extra particulars.

The invention got here amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. within the waning days of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Already, America has carried out B-52 bomber flyovers and despatched a nuclear submarine into the Persian Gulf over what Trump officers describe as the opportunity of an Iranian assault on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. drones strike in Baghdad that killed a prime Iranian normal and a prime Iraqi militia chief.

Iraq is marking the anniversary with a collection of occasions this week.

On Thursday, the UK Marine Commerce Operations, a corporation underneath Britain’s royal navy, stated on its web site that an “unknown object” had been hooked up to a ship’s hull within the neighborhood of Iraq’s Khor Al-Zubair Port, with out offering additional info.

The Pola serves as floating gasoline oil storage of Iraq’s State Group of Advertising of Oil, stated Sudharsan Sarathy, a senior oil analyst on the data-analysis agency Refinitiv. Smaller vessels carry the gasoline oil to the ship, which then conducts ship-to-ship transfers within the Persian Gulf to shoppers.

Sarathy stated the Pola was conducting a ship-to-ship switch with the MT Nordic Freedom, a Bermuda-flagged tanker.

Friday’s assertion stated an explosives-handling workforce from Iraq’s Inside Ministry was airlifted to the scene after a “international physique” was noticed hooked up to one of many ships within the ready space in Iraq’s worldwide waters, 28 nautical miles from Iraqi oil ports.

Regardless of excessive waves, the vessel receiving the gasoline was evacuated whereas the Iraqi workforce was nonetheless engaged on neutralizing the mine and evacuating the refueling ship, it stated.

In 2019, the U.S. blamed Iran for a collection of limpet mine assaults on oil tankers close to the Strait of Hormuz, the slender mouth of the Persian Gulf via which 20% of all of the world’s oil passes. Iran denies being concerned.

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