The British navy warned Tuesday of a “potential hijack” of a ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman, without elaborating.
The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations initially warned ships Tuesday that “an incident is currently underway” off the coast of Fujairah. Hours later, they said the incident was a “potential hijack.” They did not elaborate.
The U.S. military’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet and the British Defense Ministry did not immediately return calls for comment. The Emirati government did not immediately acknowledge the incident.
Earlier, four oil tankers announced around the same time via their Automatic Identification System trackers that they were “not under command,” according to MarineTraffic.com. That typically means a vessel has lost power and can no longer steer.
An Oman Royal Air Force Airbus C-295MPA, a maritime patrol aircraft, was flying over the area where the ships were, according to data from FlightRadar24.com.
The event comes just days after a drone struck an oil tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire off the coast of Oman, killing two crew members. The West blamed Iran for the attack, which marked the first known assault to have killed civilians in the yearslong shadow war targeting commercial vessels in the region.
Iran denied playing any role in the incident, though Tehran and its allied militias have used similar “suicide” drones in attacks previously.
Israel, the United States and United Kingdom vowed a “collective response” to the attack, without elaborating.