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AN INVESTIGATION: AGRARI tanker attacked at Shuqaiq Facility.

There are conflicting reports about an attack on the Greek owned & Maltese flagged MT Agrari oil tanker today in the Saudi port of Shuqaiq. According to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, a commercial vessel was attacked in a foiled terrorist attack but has suffered damage aproximatly 1 meter above the waterline from shrapnel. The blast, which they claimed occurred on Wednesday November 25th, hit the MT Agrari, while it was off the coast of Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia, just north of the Yemeni border. Some of the facts support this but other do not.



THE FACTS


On November 21 at 22:37 UTC the MT Agrari changed course and headed for Shuqaiq, but it took an out of the way path dangerously crossing shallow sandbanks to get there. Marinetraffic's density maps show that afrimax ships like this rarely do that. Its possible the vessel was being followed or harassed already at this point but it's unclear. Before it arrives, their AIS transponder signal is lost at 06:02 UTC on November 22nd indicating its been turned off or lost power.


A Planet Labs satellite caught the Agrari as it was heading towards the port on November 22nd, there is no visible damage but the image is not very clear and shadows make it difficult to see details.


After sitting at the Shuqaiq anchorage for a day the ship moves towards the offshore oil terminal at 6:00 UTC on November 23rd. A satellite image captured at 07:57 UTC shows 2 tugs helping the tanker into the berth and it appears at that time it was already leaking fuel oil fairly severely.


A side by side of satellite images from the 22nd on the left and 23rd on the right show the difference in the water around the facility after the vessel arrives. Its possible this is just sand being stirred up by the powerful pusher tugs but the fact that its still visible the next day also makes this scenario far less likely.


At 19:22 UTC on Monday November 23rd the tracking signal for the Agrari is lost and had not come back as of publishing. A Saudi Royal Coast Guard vessel is currently sitting next to the last reported position for the Agrari.


Another satellite image from the next day, November 24th shows that there still appears to be oil drifting around the tanker and in the area. The ship is still at the terminal indicating it is still unloading its cargo.


The final satellite image from today Wednesday November 25th shows what appears to be burns on the side of the ship and again a small amount of fuel oil.


I feel there are only 3 realistic possibilities here that would explain the story / evidence.


  1. The ship was attacked by suicide boat, mine or missile shortly after or while it was being docked. The Agrari crew managed to start the offload and got the hole above the waterline by removing enough weight. In an attempt to spread out bad news and not adversely affect a stabilizing oil price the Saudi's delayed announcing the incident.

  2. The ship was being chased on the 22nd and thought they had managed too escape from the attackers, however a time delayed magnetic limpet mine was successfully attached to the ship in the chase and it detonated later when the ship was almost at the facility. Again to spread out bad news the Saudi's delayed announcing the incident.

  3. The ship was attacked today as claimed and the disturbance we see in the water is from the pusher tugs stirring up the sand in the shallow water.


I will let you decide what you think happened, I have my guess.



Written By: Simon Bolivar

Information from: MarineTraffic.com, Sentinel-Hub.com, Planet.com & @obs_IL (Twitter)