Muscat: Three suspected piracy incidents, including one involving an exchange of gunfire, have been recorded in the Strait of Hormuz between Oman and Iran in the last 24 hours, maritime sources claimed.
"There were a total of three incidents reported in the last 24 hours. There was an attack on the crude oil tanker in which gunshots were fired. In the other incidents, skiffs approached two vessels troubling these in some respects," a senior officer from Nato's Allied Maritime Command, told Times of Oman over phone.
The vessel, a Panama-flagged crude oil tanker, came under attack at a position 146 degrees Didamar Light 17 NM. "The tanker was approached by a skiff in position 26:24.4N - 056:41.8E, approximately 20nm off the Iran coast, Strait of Hormuz. Six persons on board with weapons were sighted in the skiff which approached at 20 knots.
The skiff reportedly fired twice at the tankers' bridge and accommodation. The Master ordered best maritime practice measures, sounded a general alarm, mustered the crew and activated fire pumps, then altering the course. On hearing the alarm, the skiff turned to the tanker's stern and moved away eastwards," US Navy's Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO) in Bahrain, reported.
"The vessel and the crew are safe," the MARLO office report added.
In the second incident involving a suspicious activity, two skiffs with three to four persons on board in military uniform and armed with machine guns approached a merchant vessel, within 150 metres in position 26.22,6N - 056:07.8E, approximately 10nm NNE of Oman, Strait of Hormuz. "After a while, the skiffs turned away," Nato Shipping Centre reported.
In the third incident, again a suspicious activity, a merchant vessel was reported having being approached within two metres by two skiffs in position 24:52N - 060:59E, approximately 21nm S of Iran.
"The vessel carried out evasive manoeuvres for 25 minutes, then the skiffs turned away. A ladder was sighted," the Nato Shipping Centre reported, adding that the incidents were being investigated and the nationalities of the non-merchant crews had not yet been determined.