NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) reported on unidentified merchant ship being shot on Sunday. The accident happened while the vessel was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, between Oman and Iran. The ship was shot twice from close range by 6 assailants. They were armed with machine guns and were sailing on a speedboat. The crew of the merchant vessel used hoses to repel the attack. According to NSC, the crew members have not been injured and the vessel has not been damaged. The incident happened on the Gulf of Oman side of the Strait of Hormuz. According to NATO, 90 minutes earlier, another merchant vessel was approached to 150 meters by two other speedboats. They had on board three to four armed men with military clothes. They did not fire at the ship. The incident happened about thirty nautical miles (direction west) of the second attack. The merchant shipping alert service of the NATO released the following statement:
"Two green colored skiffs with three-four persons on board in military clothing and armed with gun machines got to 150 meters of a merchant vessel. After a while the skiffs turned away to Iranian coast."
The Strait of Hormuz is a vital shipping route for gas and oil. The pirate attacks in the area are rare. Usually, the suspected Somali pirates attack merchant vessel in the Somali Basin and in the Gulf of Aden.
The two incidents are being investigated. According to NATO Shipping Centre, it has not yet been determined whether the incidents had any relation. The non-merchant crews' nationalities has not yet been identified.