June 13, 2019

More trouble in the Middle East today, as CNN's New Day reports on what is now thought to be torpedo attacks.

"We are following that breaking news for you about two oil tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman. These are new pictures just into CNN and they show one of the damaged tankers after a reported explosion and fire. You can see on your screen, that huge plume of black smoke coming from the vessel. A U.S. navy ship was in the area, it was quick to respond, rescuing crew members. Let's bring in CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with the latest on what she's learned. What's happening here?" Alysin Camerota asked.

"Good morning to both of you. Those pictures exactly not what the U.S. and its allies in the region wanted to see is two ships making distress calls that the U.S. Navy picked up earlier this morning, two distress calls one at 6:12, one at 7:10 local time in the Gulf of Oman in the Middle East.

"The U.S. Navy warship USS Bainbridge was in the area and responded to render assistance. We are told by defense officials now 21 crew members from one of the ships is on board the Bainbridge. They had to be picked up when the captains called abandon ship, they were picked up by a tug, a small tug, from the Netherlands that was nearby and then transferred onto the warship. That accounts for one of the crews. The U.S. is working to try to establish where the other crew may be. There are conflicting reports about that.

"Who might have been responsible for this? Look, you have to consider who had the means and the motivation. The U.S. clearly looking at the possibility Iranian-backed forces in the region may have conducted yet another attack. Obviously very concerned about it and right now at this hour, a U.S. Navy P8, a maritime patrol aircraft, is overhead conducting reconnaissance, trying to look and see what else it can determine from all of this.

"The safety of commercial mariners, of course, is paramount. These people are working these ships up and down the waters, they have no means of defending themselves. They are out there trying to earn a living and they get attacked. So that -- their welfare is a major concern, but already this morning we have seen U.S. crude oil prices spike, there is an impact on the oil market, we will have to see if the market calms down later today, and there most certainly is likely to be an impact on commercial insurance shipping rates for these cargo vessels that are so vital to everyone's economics around the world," Starr concluded.

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