BAGHDAD (AP) – An Iraqi explosives handling team is working to thwart a “large” mine found on an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and evacuate its crew, officials said Friday.
Two private security companies said the sailors feared they would be sent to M.S. A limpet mine has been found on Pola, a Liberian flag-waving tanker in the waters near the Iraqi port of Basra. A limpet mine is a type of naval mine that is usually connected to the side of a ship by a diver-member of special forces. It explodes later, and significantly damages a ship.
The Iraqi statement said the mine was linked to a tanker chartered from the Iraqi oil marketing company Somo that was refueling another ship. The Iraqi navy was safely making “a great effort to complete the mission,” said the Iraqi Security Media Cell, which is affiliated with the country’s security forces.
It is the first official Iraqi confirmation that the mine was transferred to another ship on an Iraqi tanker in the Gulf of Paras. It either does not identify the vessels or does not provide further details.
The discovery comes amid intense tensions between Iran and the US in the weak days of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Already, the U.S. has conducted a B-52 bomber flyover and a U.S. drone in Baghdad. A nuclear submarine has been sent to the Persian Gulf on what Trump officials describe as the possibility of an Iranian attack on the one-year anniversary of the drone strike. And top Iraqi military leader.
Iraq is celebrating its anniversary this week with a series of events.
On Thursday, the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, an organization under Britain’s Royal Navy, said on its website that an “unknown object” was attached near the Iraqi port of Khor al-Zubair, without giving further details.
Sudharasan Sarathi, a senior oil analyst at Data Polas Refinitive, said Pola Iraq’s state organization, Oil F Oil, deals with the storage of floating fuel oil. Smaller ships carry fuel oil in ships, which later transport ship-to-ship to customers in the Persian Gulf.
Sarathi said the Paula Bermuda-flagged tanker MT is transferring ship-to-ship with Nordic Freedom.
A statement from the Iraqi Interior Ministry said on Friday that the bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a Iraqi police recruiting center at Kisak, west of Baghdad.
Despite the high waves, the ship carrying the fuel was evacuated while the Iraqi team was still working to deactivate the mine and evacuate the refueling vessel.
In 2019, the U.S. blamed Iran for a series of limpet mine attacks on tan oil tankers near the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, through which all 20% of the world’s oil passes. Iran denies involvement.