'Potential hijack' of ship off UAE coast, authorities warn

3 August 2021, 18:16 | Updated: 3 August 2021, 18:18

There has been a "potential hijack" of a vessel off the coast of Fujairah, in the gulf of Oman
There has been a "potential hijack" of a vessel off the coast of Fujairah, in the gulf of Oman. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The UK has reported a "potential hijack" after a number of ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates lost control of their steering.

UK Maritime Trade Operations, a part of the Ministry of Defence, have described the incident as a "potential hijack".

It was not immediately clear what was happening off the coast of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman, but at least four ships have broadcast warnings that they have lost control of their steering under unclear circumstances.

The Gulf of Oman links the Arabian Sea with the Strait of Hormuz - a key international shipping route.

The ships - oil tankers called Queen Ematha, the Golden Brilliant, Jag Pooja and Abyss - reported through their Automatic Identification System trackers that they were "not under command", according to MarineTraffic.com.

That typically means a vessel has lost power and can no longer steer.

There is no British link to the tanker.

The incident comes days after a drone struck an oil tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire off the coast of Oman, killing two crew members, including one Briton.

Read more: Brit among two killed after oil tanker attacked off coast of Oman

The West blamed Iran for the attack, who denied any role in the incident, although Tehran and its allied militias have used similar "suicide" drones in attacks previously.

Israel, the US and the UK vowed a "collective response" to the attack, without elaborating.