Ship in Gulf of Oman struck by unexplained blast; crew safe

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An explosion struck a ship Friday near the strategic mouth of the Arabian Gulf, American and British military officials said.

The unexplained blast comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US over Tehran’s nuclear program. The site of the blast, the Gulf of Oman, saw a series of explosions in 2019 that the US Navy blamed on Iran, something Tehran denied.

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Details of the blast remained unclear. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British navy, says the crew and the vessel is safe after the explosion. The vessel, which it did not name, is now heading to port.

The US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet was “aware and monitoring” the situation, Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich told The Associated Press. She declined to immediately comment further.
The British maritime organization gave the ship’s last position off the coast of Muscat, the capital of Oman.

While the circumstances of the explosion remain unclear, Dryad Global, a maritime intelligence firm, said it was very possible the blast stemmed from “asymmetric activity by Iranian military,” which it said would be “commensurate” with heightened regional tensions.

As Iran seeks to pressure the United States to lift sanctions and return to the 2015 atomic accord, the country may seek “to exercise forceful diplomacy through military means,” the Dryad report said.

Iran did not immediately acknowledge the incident.

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