Boskalis is salvaging damaged tankers Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman following last week’s explosions and fire
Salvage operations are underway on two tankers damaged last week in the Gulf of Oman in suspected attacks. Royal Boskalis Westminster (Boskalis) said it was appointed as the salvor for both tankers – Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous – that were hit in the morning of 13 June off Oman and Iran.
Frontline’s large range LR2 product carrier Front Altair suffered from an explosion and fire and Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM)-managed methanol carrier Kokuka Courageous was holed by explosions in separate incidents near the Strait of Hormuz, in Oman waters, but near Iranian territory.
Shortly after the incidents the insurers of both vessels appointed Boskalis subsidiary Smit Salvage to salvage the vessels and their cargo.
Boskalis said on 14 June that “the situation of Front Altair with a cargo of naphtha is still worrisome”. However, it said the 21 crew safely left the ship and the fire was extinguished on 13 June.
On 16 June, Front Altair was being towed to the Fujairah-Khor Fakkan area by tug Aquila and the assistance of two other vessels, said owner Frontline Management. Once in a safe port, the ship’s damage will be assessed and a decision will be made concerning the transfer of cargo from Front Altair to another tanker.
Boskalis also said Kokuka Courageous, with a methanol cargo on board, was in a stable condition and crew had safely left the vessel.
BSM said the crew abandoned Kokuka Courageous due to damage to the ship’s hull on its starboard side. Netherlands-flagged utility vessel Coastal Ace was able to rescue crew from a lifeboat.
Boskalis flew out a salvage team and accompanying specialist equipment to execute the salvage operations on site on 14 June.
It said salvage of Kokuka Courageous was successful as a towing connection was established on the vessel and the crew return to the damaged ship to assist in its transit. Kokuka Courageous was towed to a port in the area.
These salvage operations are being carried out in close consultation with the relevant local authorities, including the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Center (MEMAC).
According to Fleetmon, Damen-built tug, EMAR Offshore Services’ E-Two was en route from India to Fujairah when it assisted to extinguish the fire on Front Altair. Coastal Ace was en route from Singapore to Al Hamriya, UAE, when it steamed to assist Kokuka Courageous.
Frontline’s Front Altair is Marshall Islands-flagged and Japanese tanker owner Kokuka Sangyo’s Kokuka Courageous is Panama-flagged.
On Friday, IMO secretary general Kitack Lim condemned what he said were ’suspected attacks’ in a speech at the Maritime Safety Committee’s 101st session in London.
Representing tanker-owning interests, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) condemned the attacks and threat to the lives of innocent seafarers.It said the international shipping industry is "caught in the middle of a geo-political conflict over which it has no control" and called on "the nations of the world to calm tensions in the region".
In an unrelated incident in the region, a tanker and a container ship were towed to Bangladesh after they collided.
Container ship X-Press Mahananda and 2014-built oil and chemical tanker Burgan had to be towed by tug to a pier in Chittagong on 14 June and separated on 16 June, according to Fleetmon. 2007-built, 18,017 gt X-Press Mahananda collided with Burgan in Chittagong port channel on 14 June. Singapore-flagged, 183-m long X-Press Mahananda was en route from Colombo and proceeding to port when it struck 31,445 gt, Kuwait-flagged Burgan, which was in ballast was leaving Chittagong.
Both ships sustained serious damages and require emergency repairs. X-Press Mahananda will then be taken to the container terminal to unload its cargo and 185-m long Burgan is expected to sail to Kuwait after completing repairs.