The Saudi Arabia flag tanker Abqaiq, 302,977dwt, was hit by a shore-launched anti-ship rocket fired by Yemen’s Houthi militia in the southern Red Sea in the early afternoon of Apr 3.
The tanker, owned by the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri), was carrying 2mn barrels of crude oil from Saudi Arabia to the Ain Sukhna terminal on the Gulf of Suez from where her cargo was to be moved through the SUDMED pipeline which runs across Egypt to the Sidi Kerir offshore terminal near Alexandria.
The Abqaiq was transiting one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the Bab al-Mandab, and was in international waters when she was attacked about 48 miles west-south-west of the main Yemeni port of Hodeidah. After the attack, the tanker was then escorted by a Saudi Arabia warship.
The US Maritime Administration said the attack took place about 30 miles north-west of the Hanish Islands and the tanker suffered minor damage with a hole in her hull above the waterline.
There were no reports of any of her crew being injured and she was able to continue her north-bound voyage towards the Gulf of Suez.
On Apr 9, the Portsmouthbased maritime security specialists Dryad Maritime released its analysis report on the incident, stating that the tanker was hit on the starboard bow at 1215 local time.
The report stated: “The location of impact is likely to be a forepeak machinery room or store rather than a cargo carrying area. The impact damage is estimated at 0.5 to 1m across with a 20-30cm hull penetrating hole. The steel appears to bend inwards with a mark indicating a penetration from fine on the starboard bow. A single uncorroborated source in the country stated that only the outer hull was punctured.”
The report said an attack by a small vessel carrying a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) was unlikely as, at the time, no small vessels were seen or were on the radar and an analysis of the weather conditions at the time would have inhibited small boat operations.