(CNN) — Twenty-three crew members from a Norwegian-owned oil tanker that was attacked in the Gulf of Oman have arrived safely in Dubai, the shipping company that owns the tanker said Saturday.
The crew of the “Front Altair” includes 11 Russians, one Georgian and 11 Filipinos. “All crew members are well and have been well looked after while in Iran,” the statement from shipping company Frontline says.
Frontline CEO Robert Hvide Macleod praises the crew for performing “very professionally in a difficult situation.”
The Front Altair was one of two ships attacked in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. The other vessel was a Japanese-owned tanker carrying chemicals.
“The captain quickly made the prudent decision to evacuate the ship,” Macleod said in Frontline’s statement. The crew was eventually picked up by the Iranian Navy and taken to the Iranian port of Jask, Macleod said.
The Front Altair itself remains in the Gulf of Oman. Earlier, a US official said Iranian small boats were preventing tug boats from towing away one of the damaged tankers. But Frontline spokesman Pat Adamson told CNN Saturday they were not aware of any type of obstruction around its vessel since the time of the attack.
A specialist team will now inspect the vessel for a full assessment of the condition and damage, Frontline said.
The attacks have escalated tensions between the United States and Iran. Washington blames Tehran for the attacks and accuses the Iranians of engaging in additional aggressive behavior before and after the attacks were carried out.
The US released video footage it says shows an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the vessels’ hulls. The Pentagon claims the video shows Iranians returning to the scene of the attacks to remove evidence of their involvement.
But the president of the company that owns the Japanese tanker said he believes there’s “no possibility of mine attack” owing to the attack being “well above the naval line.” The company president says a crew member who witnessed one of the blasts reported seeing a “flying object.”
The United States also believes Iranians fired a missile at a US drone in the area hours before the attack but missed, a US official told CNN.
Iran vehemently denies any involvement. Its foreign minister suggested that the United States was quick to make allegations “without a shred of evidence.”
The US has also blamed Iran for a similar attack on four oil tankers last month that occurred in the Gulf of Oman, claims Iran also denies.
The attacks could provide more fodder for Iran hawks within the US administration.
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