There was an explosion aboard M. Star at 5:30 a.m. Tokyo time that slightly injured one crew member, Mitsui said in a statement. The ship is on its way to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates to assess the damage. No oil is reported leaking from the vessel.
The explosion on the starboard side of the ship damaged hatches and a lifeboat, Corey Barker, a spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, speaking by phone from the fleet’s base in Manama, Bahrain, told Bloomberg. “The cause and extent of the damage is unknown and will be investigated,” he said.
“If it turns out to be an attack it will have implications for ships going in and out of the Strait of Hormuz, and would lead to delays and rising tanker rates,” said Ben Goggin, a freight derivatives broker at SSY Futures Ltd., a unit of the world’s second-largest shipbroker.
There was a series of naval stand-offs between the U.S. and Iran in the Strait of Hormuz in December 2007 and January 2008. The Pentagon accused Iran of threatening the U.S. 5th Fleet but this was later contradicted by the Navy. According to Press TV, a naval officer “had literally given the order” to fire on the Iranian ships.