An Israeli-owned cargo ship, Helios Ray, was hit by a mysterious explosion in the Gulf of Oman and badly damaged on Friday afternoon.
The damaged ship was reportedly transported to a nearby harbor. No injuries were reported among the ship’s crew members and the overall condition of the ship was described as good. The explosion is believed to be a result of a maritime mine that went off.
The ship was reportedly en route from the Saudi city Dammam to Singapore.
Rami Ungar, the Israeli businessman who owns Ray Shipping, including the ship Hellios Ray, told the Israeli Ynet news outlet that he does not believe the explosion was intentional.
“Israeli authorities will investigate this together with me. I don’t think this deliberately targeted an Israeli-owned ship, that has not happened to me before,” said Ungar.
Ray Shipping told The Times of Israel that the entire crew was unharmed and the ship was taken to Dubai for inspections.
“The ship has 28 crew members. No one was hurt. The engine room was not damaged. It is on its way to the port of Dubai to fix everything necessary.”
The United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO) is currently investigating the incident. Since holes were discovered in the ship, the UKMTO is not ruling out anything, including a missile attack.
“Investigations are ongoing. Vessel and crew are safe,” stated UKMTO
Meanwhile, UKMTO is warning nearby vessels to stay away from the impact area, until more information is available.
While the source behind the explosion is still unknown, there are fears that the explosion could be connected to the Iranian regime’s asymmetric warfare against the United States and its allies in the Middle East. Following a series of explosions in the same area in 2019, the U.S. Navy blamed the Iranian regime. In January 2021, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards boarded and seized a South Korean tanker in the Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz.
The maritime intelligence company Dryad Global stated there was a possibility that the explosion was caused by “asymmetric activity by Iranian military.” According to The AP, the Iranian regime has so far not acknowledged the incident.
Following the assassination of Iran’s nuclear chief Fakhrizadeh in November 2020, Iran blamed Israel and vowed to avenge his death. Amid regional tensions between U.S. regional allies and Iran, U.S. President Joe Biden ordered military strikes on Iranian-backed militants in Syria on Thursday. It was the first U.S. military campaign in the Middle East under the new Biden administration.
However, the Neptune P2P group, a maritime security firm, dismissed the theory that the Israel ship was deliberately attacked.
“There is no indication at this point as to the cause of the explosion, however, the incident took place close to an area where two vessels were attacked in July 2019 with what was believed to be limpet mines. There is nothing at present to suggest that this is the case in this incident,” stated the Neptune group.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.