Mine Explosion Off Saudi Arabia Damages Greek-managed Tanker

The probable location of the Agrari, as seen from satellite over the Red Sea. Credit: Wim Zwijnenburg/Twitter

An explosion from a floating mine has caused damage to an oil tanker which is managed by a Greek concern, in the Red Sea off Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia.

The mine, thought to be related to the ongoing hostilities in Yemen, damaged the Maltese- flagged vessel, which is owned by  Lois Maritime Ltd.

The Red Sea is an area rife with insecurity, as the war between the Houthis and Saudi-backed forces rages on. The Houthis have reportedly now granted permission for the UN to board and inspect the damage caused to the tanker, which is named “Agrari.”

A statement from the vessel’s operator, as reported in the Associated Press, said that the tanker had been “attacked by an unknown source”. The seven Greek crew members of the taker were not injured.

“The Agrari was struck about 1 meter above the waterline and has suffered a breach. It has been confirmed that the crew are safe and there have been no injuries.”

The Agrari had been underway off the coast of Saudi Arabia when the incident occurred. It has now been boarded by Saudi officials, according to the company which owns it. Reports say that Ambrey, a British security concern, was the first to report the explosion and to attribute it to a sea mine.

There has been no confirmation of the incident by Saudi officials.

The Agrari, which was built in 2009, had taken on cargo in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, before discharging it at the Shuqaiq Stream Power Plant. The Ambrey report stated “LR2/Aframax tanker AGRARI was impacted by a mine having berthed at one of the Al Shuqaiq Steam Power Plant (SSPP) jetties in Saudi Arabia.”

It added that “The explosion took place in port limits and punctured the hull of the vessel, which is in ballast.” There is no way to know when the incident occurred according to information available at press time, but reports say that the Agrari had arrived at Al Shuqaiq on Monday, November 23.

The website TMS Tankers states that the Agrari, with a length of 243.8 meters or 800 feet, is a smaller Aframax crude oil tanker.

It was on Monday that a cruise missile fired by Houthis rebels in Yemen struck an oil processing facility near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Just two weeks ago there was also a fire near a floating platform which belongs to the Jazan oil products terminal — but it was contained and caused no injuries.

That blaze was, however, the result of another attempted attack on the part of the Houthis, after a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen had destroyed two boats loaded with explosives in the southern Red Sea.

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is responsible for patrolling the perennially-troubled waterways of the Mideast, has not responded to a request for comment from the press.