DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – An Israeli-owned cargo ship carrying a mysterious explosion in the Gulf of Oman arrived at the port of Dubai for repair on Sunday, days after the explosion, which rekindled safety problems in the Middle East waterway amid heightened tensions with Iran.
Associated Press reporters saw the gruesome Israeli-owned MV Helios Ray sitting at dry dock facilities in Dubai’s Port Rashid. Although the crew was not injured in the blast, the ship maintained two holes on the port side and two on the starboard side just above the waterline, according to U.S. defense officials.
It remains unclear what caused the explosion, but the incident comes amid a sharp rise in tensions between the United States and Iran over the dissolving nuclear deal from 201
From the coast, AP journalists could not immediately see damage to the ship. The dock blocked the view of the ship’s starboard side down to the waterline, and the port side could only be seen from a distance. The ship was anchored near Dubai’s large floating hotel, Queen Elizabeth 2. An Emirati Coast Guard ship was seen sailing behind the ship, with Dubai police and Emirati Armed Forces vehicles parked nearby.
Emirati officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the ship’s docking in the country.
Friday’s explosion on the ship, a Bahamian-flagged roll-on, roll-off vehicle cargo ship, was reminiscent of a series of attacks on foreign oil tankers in 2019 that the U.S. Navy accused of Iran. Tehran denied any role in the suspected attacks that took place near the Strait of Hormuz, an important oil epoch.
The Israeli ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, told Israeli army radio on Sunday that “it was no secret that the Iranians were trying to harm Israeli targets,” claiming that the explosion on the ship bore the hallmarks of previous Iranian attacks.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Yemen’s Iranian – backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for firing a ballistic missile and nine bomb-laden drones at “sensitive sites” in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh the night before. The group’s military spokesman Yahia Sarei added that six more explosive drones targeted “military positions” in the southwestern cities of Abha and Khamis Mushait. The Saudi interception of the missile triggered an apparent explosion over Riyadh that frightened residents and scattered shell remains without causing losses.
Helios Ray had unloaded cars in various ports in the Persian Gulf before coming out of the Middle East towards Singapore. The blast struck as the ship sailed from the Saudi port of Dammam out of the Gulf of Oman, forcing it to turn to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for inspection.
Iranian authorities have not publicly commented on the ship. The country’s hardline Kayhan Daily, whose editor – in – chief was appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claimed that Helios Ray was “possibly” on a “espionage” mission in the region without providing any evidence to support the claim. The Sunday report speculated that the ship may have been “trapped in the ambush of a branch of resistance axis”, referring to Iranian agents in the region.
Iran has also blamed Israel for a recent series of attacks, including a mysterious explosion last summer that destroyed an advanced centrifuge assembly plant at its Natanz nuclear facility and the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program two. decades ago.
Iran’s repeated promises to avenge Fakhrizadeh’s killings have raised alarm in Israel, especially as the Gulf sees an increase in Israeli traffic following the country’s normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Associated Press authors Jon Gambrell and Malak Harb in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.