Tanker Sustains Damage in Attack at Saudi Marine Terminal

al shuqaiq
Aerial surveillance footage of the Al Shuqaiq power plant complex (file image courtesy Ansar Allah)

Published Nov 25, 2020 1:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Greek-owned tanker Agrari has been damaged in an apparent attack at the marine terminal for Saudi Arabia's Al Shuqaiq steam power plant, according to multiple sources. 

Ship manager TMS Tankers has confirmed that the vessel was struck about three feet above the waterline and sustained a hull breach. She had finished discharging her cargo at the Al Shuqaiq pier and was preparing to depart when an "unknown source" carried out the attack, the firm said. Security consultancy Ambrey has identified the source of the blast as a mine.

Saudi officials have described the incident as a "thwarted" terrorist attack; as of Wednesday, no entity has claimed responsibility.

Based on satellite imagery provided by PlanetLabs, Tankertrackers.com has identified visual evidence of a spill adjacent to the Agrari on November 23. The vessel's AIS signal ceased on the same day, the consultancy confirmed. 

Earlier this week, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen reported that it had destroyed five Iranian-origin mines deployed by Houthi forces in the Red Sea, near the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb. Sea mines - typically floating improvised explosive devices - have made several appearances in the long-running conflict between Houthi and Saudi-led forces. 

Houthi rebels regularly stage cross-border attacks on Saudi shoreside facilities with missile and rocket strikes, primarily targeting energy infrastructure. Al Shuqaiq's desalination plant - adjacent to the power station - was hit by a Houthi-claimed strike in 2019. 

Houthi attacks on shipping have typically been concentrated on Saudi-flagged tankers and Saudi coalition warships, and these incidents have generally occurred near Houthi-occupied stretches of Yemen's coastline.