A TEAM of 10 investigators – aided by US and UK specialists – is today trying to resolve the mystery over how a Mitsui OSK Lines VLCC was damaged earlier this week in the Strait of Hormuz.
M. Star is being inspected off Fujairah in the UAE, the company also told reporters in Tokyo.
Sources close to the investigation told Fairplay today that neither an entry hole nor scorch marks were found near the dent, so a propelled weapon attack is now viewed as unlikely.
Photos show the VLCC with a large, square-shaped dent in its hull just above the waterline. Its crew of 31 people reported an explosion, but Masahiko Hibino, MOL’s tanker safety chief, declined to comment on whether the blast could have been caused by a rocket-propelled grenade attack by pirates, Bloomberg reported.
The ship is flagged with the Marshall Islands register, which told Fairplay today its inspector is now in Fujairah “to attend the vessel”.
Weapons authorities at Jane’s told Fairplay today that the photos alone do not establish what caused the impact.
A Fujairah port official told reporters yesterday that a rogue wave had caused the damage, rather than an attacker, but Hibino called that explanation unlikely.
An authority on structural elements on ships also pointed out to Fairplay that a floating hazard, such as a stray container, could have caused the dent and made an explosive noise on contact. The crew has not indicated whether other vessels or objects were nearby when the ship was dented on 27 July.
Cyrus Mody, manager of the International Martime Bureau’s piracy reporting centre, said yesterday a pirate attack would be “difficult” at present because of rough seas in the Persian Gulf.
Text source: SAFETY AT SEA INTERNATIONAL