June 14, 2019 / 12:32 PM / 3 months ago

US Navy says 21 rescued crew back on board blast-struck tanker to aid towing

DUBAI, June 14 (Reuters) - Twenty-one crew members who were rescued on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman by a U.S. Navy vessel are back on board their blast-stricken tanker, the Kokuka Courageous, to facilitate its towing to port, the Navy’s Fifth Fleet said on Friday.

The USS Bainbridge remains in close contact with the tanker, Joshua Frey of the Fifth Fleet told Reuters.

The Kokuka Courageous, one of two tankers hit by explosions on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, is now safely under tow and heading towards the United Arab Emirates’ port of Khor Fakkan, its operator Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said earlier.

Dutch marine engineer Boskalis said it had been appointed to salvage the vessel and the other affected tanker, the Front Altair, operated by Frontline.

The United States has accused Iran of attacking the tankers. Tehran has denied all allegations. Thursday’s incident drove up oil prices and has fuelled concerns about a new U.S.-Iranian confrontation.

Reporting Ghaida Ghantous; writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Catherine Evans

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