UPDATE: Israeli media outlets expectedly pointed at the alleged ‘Iranian trace’ in the incident.
On February 25, an explosion struck an Israeli-owned vessel in the Sea of Oman, according to several news agencies and a British maritime intelligence firm.
In an advisory notice, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), which is run by the British Navy, said that explosion rocked the vessel, MV HELIOS RAY, at 2040 GMT. The vessel was en route to Singapore from the port of Dammam in Saudi Arabia.
“Investigations are ongoing. Vessel and crew are safe,” the UKMTO said in the notice. “Vessels transiting the area are advised to exercise caution.”
The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet told the Reuters news agency that it was aware of the incident and was monitoring the situation.
Israeli media sources confirmed that the MV Helios Ray, a vehicle carrier, is owned by Israeli shipping magnate Rami Ungar Ltd. The explosion forced the vessel to head to the nearest port.
— Aurora Intel (@AuroraIntel) February 26, 2021
The company’s founder Abraham Ungar, 74, who goes by “Rami,” said that he did not know what had hit the vessel, which had several holes, but it was most likely “missiles or a mine placed on the bow.”
“Israeli authorities will investigate this together with me,” Rami, who is regarded as one of the richest men in Israel, told the Ynet news site. “I don’t think this deliberately targeted an Israeli-owned ship, that has not happened to me before.”
In 2019, the Sea of Oman saw a series of attacks on commercial ships. Back then, the US blamed the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Last year, Iran held Israel responsible for the assassination of its top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Senior officials in Tehran vowed to respond. Nevertheless, there is still no evidence linking Tehran to the MV HELIOS RAY explosion.
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