The Saudi defense ministry stated that its navy had intercepted and destroyed a remote-controlled drone boat on Tuesday off Yanbu port – but did not say whether it had caused damage. Unconfirmed reports earlier referred to an attack on a vessel in this area of the Red Sea – possibly the oil tanker NCC Dammam owned by a unit of the Saudi firm Bahri.
British maritime security company Ambry also cited reports of an incident and said smoke was seen rising from a vessel. Yanbu port control broadcast a message by marine VHF radio, warning vessels to increase their level of alertness and monitor for any suspicious activity. Yanbu serves as the end point of the kingdom’s crucial East-West Pipeline. It allows crude oil pumped in its eastern fields to be shipped directly via the Red Sea, avoiding the Gulf’s chokepoint at the Strait of Hormuz. Yanbu is also home to an oil refinery that can process 400,000 barrels of crude per day.