31 December 2020, 0600 UTC
6NM South Al Bakr Terminal
274.5 x 48.04 m
Reporting indicates that the Liberian flagged MT POLA (IMO9493767) has identified the presence of a suspicious object attached to the vessel hull whilst conducting StS 6nm South Al Bakr Terminal offshore Iraq.
Further reporting indicates that the object is suspected to be a limpet mine. The crew and vessel are understood to be safe at this time.
The MT POLA can be seen to have been in position where the Mine was found since the 27th December 20, however it remains unclear when the device was placed. Additional reporting indicates that a second vessel the M/T NORDIC FREEDOM is understood to have assisted the POLA in obtaining pictures of the device.
This latest incident follows a spate of incidents within the Red Sea where vessels were targeted by similar devices and WBIED at the Saudi Ports of Al Shuquaiq and Jeddah.
Regional tensions remain fraught with uncertainty remaining around the future strategic position of the US within the region post Trump. In addition recent increases in US military activity and rhetoric have led to a heightened posture within Iran.
With anniversary of the death of IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani approaching the corresponding risk within the region to all vessels is assessed to be SUBSTANTIAL. All vessels are encouraged to operate at a heightened posture of vigilance whilst at anchor and in transit and are reminded to report all suspicious activity to UKMTO.
Sat image provided by Aurora Intel