At least four ships have reportedly broadcast warnings off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, suggesting they have lost control of their steering under unclear circumstances.
The vessels — called Queen Ematha, Golden Brilliant, Jag Pooja and Abyss — announced via their Automatic Identification System (AIS) trackers on Tuesday that they were “not under command,” according to MarineTraffic.com, which provides real-time information on the movements of ships.
Refinitiv ship tracking data also said the Singapore-flagged chemical tanker Golden Brilliant, which was around the same position off Fujairah, had updated its AIS tracking status to “not under command.”
This indicates a situation where a vessel loses control and can no longer steer due to extraordinary circumstances.
According to data from FlightRadar24.com, a Swedish internet-based service that gives real-time commercial aircraft flight tracking information, an Oman Royal Air Force Airbus C-295MPA, a maritime patrol aircraft, was flying over the area where the ships were stationed.
The cause of the incident, which reportedly took place around 61 nautical miles (113 kilometers) east of the emirate of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman, wasn’t immediately clear.
Initially, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) called it a “non-piracy incident” and advised vessels in the area to “exercise extreme caution,” without elaborating.
Later, the British maritime agency said the incident was a “potential hijack.”
The event comes less than a week after an Israeli-managed oil tanker was attacked off the coast of Oman, resulting in the death of two crew members.
While the regime in Israel, and the US and UK, blamed Iran for the incident, Tehran vehemently rejected the accusations, terming them “childish.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Monday vowed “prompt and strong” response to any “adventure.” According to reports, the US and UK have given “green light” to Israel for a military action.