Singapore-registered ships advised to be vigilant after oil tanker hit by explosion in Saudi Arabia
SINGAPORE: All Singapore-registered ships operating in and around Saudi Arabia should be vigilant and take necessary precautions after an oil tanker was hit by an explosion, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).
No Singaporeans were on board the tanker and all crew members are safe, added MPA in response to CNA's queries on Wednesday (Dec 6).
On Monday at around 12.40am (5.40am, Singapore time), Singapore-flagged oil tanker BW Rhine was at Jeddah Port when the incident happened.
"The vessel was berthed at the port for discharge operations when the explosion occurred. The ship operator reported that the vessel was hit by an ‘external source’," said MPA.
Citing an official spokesman from Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Energy, the Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that the vessel was attacked by an "explosive-laden boat".
"Singapore condemns all attacks on commercial vessels which pose a serious threat to the security and safety of international maritime navigation and trade", added MFA in the media statement.
Saudi state media have called the explosion a "terrorist attack", but did not say who was behind the incident.
The fire on the ship was put out by the crew with assistance from the port’s fire brigade and tug boats. The ship reported hull damage to one of its water ballast tanks and cargo tank.
BW Rhine, which is owned and operated by Hafnia, is still assessing the damage to its hull, MPA said. No reports of water pollution were received, it added.
There were 22 crew members onboard.
In an advisory issued on Tuesday, MPA said all Singapore-registered ships in the region should also adhere to the requirements and advisories from relevant port authorities.
MPA added that it was assisting the company and investigating the incident.
In response to CNA's queries, Hafnia said the cause of the incident was "not for us as a shipowner to speculate on, but for the relevant authorities to establish".
"Our priorities are (to) care for the crew and their safety, the vessel's stability and the environment," said Hafnia's executive vice president of technical Ralph Juhl.
The company was working on securing the safety of the staff, stabilising the vessel's condition and preventing environmental damage, he said.
"All is calm and under control and we work closely with the charters and authorities to clear the situation."
The BW Rhine is a Singapore-flagged tanker with the capacity to carry 60,000 to 80,000 tonnes of light and middle distillate oil products, according to Hafnia and shipping data on Refinitiv.
The tanker loaded about 60,000 tonnes of gasoline from Yanbu port on Dec 6, the data showed. It is currently 84 per cent full, according to its draft.