Tanker, gulf
This picture taken on June 15, 2019 shows tanker ships in the waters of the Gulf of Oman off the coast of the eastern UAE emirate of Fujairah. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai, United Arab Emirates:Crew members of the Norwegian-owned oil tanker that was attacked in the Gulf of Oman landed on Saturday in Dubai after two days in Iran.

Associated Press journalists saw the crew members of the MT Front Altair after their Iran Air flight from Bandar Abbas, Iran, landed in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The Front Altair caught fire after the attack Thursday, sending a thick cloud of black smoke visible even by satellite from space.


The US has blamed Iran for the attack, saying they suspect another limpet mine attack on oil tankers by Iran. Tehran has denied being involved.

The suspected attacks occurred at dawn Thursday about 40 kilometres off the southern coast of Iran. The Front Altair, loaded with naphtha from the United Arab Emirates, radioed for help as its cargo of flammable chemicals caught fire. The Kokuka Courageous, carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, called for help a short time later.

The US Navy sent the USS Bainbridge, which picked up 21 mariners from the Kokuka Courageous, and they stayed overnight on the destroyer, returning to their vessel Friday to help in it being towed.

Iran ended up taking the 23 mariners from the Front Altair. They initially ended up in the port city of Jask before being taken to Bandar Abbas. Its crew is comprised of 11 Russians, 11 Filipinos and one Georgian.

On Saturday, the Kokuka Courageous arrived off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE. That was the site of a similar suspected limpet mine attack in May on four other oil tankers.

Tensions have risen as Iran appears poised to break the nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew America from last year. In the deal, Tehran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of crippling sanctions. Now, Iran is threatening to resume enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels if European nations don't offer it new terms to the deal by July 7.

Threats from Iran

Already, Iran says it quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium. Meanwhile, US sanctions have cut off opportunities for Iran to trade its excess uranium and heavy water abroad, putting Tehran on course to violate terms of the nuclear deal regardless.

In May, the US rushed an aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets to the region in response to what it said were threats from Iran.

Iran previously used mines against oil tankers in 1987 and 1988 in the "Tanker War," which saw the US Navy escort ships through the region. Regardless of who is responsible, the price of a barrel of benchmark Brent crude spiked as much as 4 per cent immediately after the attack Thursday, showing how critical the region remains to the global economy.