UKMTO has been informed that the Port of Jeddah is closed. Reporting indicates that there may have been a second vessel involved, investigation is ongoing.
Dryad Reports indicate that a vessel has experienced an explosion whist carrying out operations within the main tanker anchorage at the Saudi Aramco Jeddah Port.
The vessel involved has been confirmed to be the Singaporean flagged MT BW RHINE (IMO9341940). The resulting fire from the explosion has been extinguished and the vessel has hull damage, all 22 crew aboard are unharmed.
Of note the Maltese-flagged Crude Tanker vessel AGRARI was reported to have been struck by a Houthi launched Waterborne IED within the Port of Al Shuqaiq on the 23rd November 20.
On the 23rd November 20 an Aramco fuel depot was struck by Houthi Quds 2 rockets.
Specific details regarding the nature of the incident remain unclear at this time, however the credibility of source and the current cadence of activity within the Red Sea would indicate that an explosive incident is highly likely to have occurred.
Hafnia, has issued a statement confirming that it was their vessel the BW RHINE (IMO9341940) in the incident. The BW RHINE was arriving into Jeddah Port from Yanbu industrial port located approximately 300km North of Jeddah. The nature and cause of the explosion remains unclear.
Previous incidents have involved the use of Waterborn IED against vessels with the latest attack occurring at the Port of Al Shuqaiq on the 23rd November 20. Attempts at targeting vessels and ports via such methods are reported with relative frequency with previous reporting indicating that Saudi forces interdicted and destroyed an attempted WBIED targeting the Saudi port of Jizan on the 13th November 20.
Additional incidents have involved vessels being struck by drifting sea-mines with Saudi naval forces having reportedly destroyed Houthi and Iranian mines on the 14th and 24th November 20 respectively. In addition, such an incident was reported to have occurred against the Greek-owned, Malta-flagged Aframax tanker whilst loading at the Rudum Terminal off the Yemeni south coast on the 03 October 20.
Incidents within the Red Sea have previously occurred however remain uncommon. Notably these have involved the targeting of the Saudi flagged vessels in transit by Houthi Rebels in the vicinity of the Hanish islands. Previous incidents within the Red Sea have also involved the targeting of the Iranian flagged MT Sabiti in 2019 offshore Jeddah.
This latest incident remains unclear however the presence of Houthi rebels offshore and 300nm north of their usual area of operations would represent a fundamental shift in both targeting capabilities and intent. If the incident is determined to be the result of malicious intent, it remains unlikely that such an incident was perpetuated by Houthi rebels targeting vessels off Jeddah with a methodology similar to that seen offshore Al Shuqaiq and Jizan. If indeed the vessel has been targeted by an explosive device it remains a realistic possibility that the vessel was targeted via the presence of limpet mines, similar to that seen deployed by Iranian forces within the Gulf of Oman in 2019.