A Singapore-registered commercial oil tanker was damaged in Saudi Arabia after it was attacked by an “explosive-laden boat”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a press statement on Wednesday (16 December).

The incident happened in the early hours of 14 December when Singapore-flagged oil tanker BW Rhine was anchored at the Port of Jeddah.

The attacked resulted in a small fire and hull damage, however none of the tanker’s 22 crew members were injured, MFA stated. It added that no Singaporeans were on board as well.

The fire on the tanker was put out by the crew with help from the port’s fire brigade and tug boats. The hull damage was reported to be at one of its water ballast tanks and cargo tank.

“According to an official spokesman from the Ministry of Energy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the vessel was attacked by an ‘explosive-laden boat’,” the Ministry said.

It continued, “Singapore condemns all attacks on commercial vessels which pose a serious threat to the security and safety of international maritime navigation and trade”.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is currently investigating the incident with relevant Saudi authorities.

In an advisory released on Tuesday, MPA also noted that all Singapore-registered ships in the region should adhere to the requirements and advisories from relevant port authorities.

Commenting on the incident, Saudi state media have called it a “terrorist attack” but did not point out who was behind the attack.

BW Rhine, which is owned and operated by Hafnia, is still assessing the damage to its hull, MPA noted. It added that there were no recorded reports of water pollution.

According to Hafnia and shipping data on Refinitiv, the said tanker has a capacity of carrying 60,000 to 80,000 tonnes of light and middle distillate oil products. The tanker filled nearly 60,000 tonnes of gasoline from Yanbu on 6 December, the data revealed. It is currently 84 percent full, based on its draft.

In a report by Channel News Asia, Hafnia said that the cause of the incident was “not for us as a shipowner to speculate on, but for the relevant authorities to establish”.

The company’s vice president of technical Ralph Juhl, said: “Our priorities are (to) care for the crew and their safety, the vessel’s stability and the environment”.

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