Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it had intercepted an explosive-laden boat off the Red Sea port of Yanbu after maritime security firms cited “unconfirmed reports” of an attack on a vessel in the area.
A Saudi defense ministry statement on state media did not say whether there had been any damage as a result of the operation by the Saudi navy to intercept and destroy the remote-controlled boat.
Security firm Dryad Global had earlier said it received “unconfirmed reports” that a vessel, possibly the oil tanker NCC Dammam owned by a unit of Saudi firm Bahri, had been attacked off Yanbu.
Chief executive Abdullah Aldubaikhi told Reuters that no vessels owned by National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) had been attacked.
British maritime security company Ambry also cited reports of an incident and said smoke was seen rising from a vessel. United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said it was aware of reports of an incident approximately 2 nautical miles from Yanbu and that investigations were ongoing.
Vessels have previously come under attack in Red Sea waters.
In December, Saudi Arabia said a tanker anchored at the Jeddah port washit by an explosive-laden boat. This followed a separate incident at another Saudi terminal on the Red Sea where a tanker was damaged by an explosion.
A Saudi Arabian-led military coalition engaged in Yemen has in the past foiled attempted assaults using explosive-laden boats it says are launched by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.
The Saudi defense ministry said it was investigating who was behind Tuesday’s “hostile attempt”.
(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli, Ghaida Ghantous and Jonathan Saul; editing by Jason Neely and Giles Elgood)
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