Hormuz blast-hit tanker will return to sea in fourth quarter

The Front Altair tanker damaged in an attack in the Strait of Hormuz in June is undergoing repairs. (Reuters)
Updated 28 August 2019

Hormuz blast-hit tanker will return to sea in fourth quarter

  • Front Altair is presently undergoing repairs and is expected to resume operation in the fourth quarter of 2019

OSLO: An oil tanker that was set ablaze by a blast near the Strait of Hormuz in June will be back in service in the fourth quarter after repairs, vessel owner Frontline said.

Images of the product tanker Front Altair taken on June 13 showed flames and thick black smoke billowing from a hole in the side of the vessel following the explosion, which the US has blamed on Iran.

Iran has denied any involvement in the blasts on the Front Altair or the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous vessel on the same day, or the attacks on four other vessels in the Gulf region in May.

Iran later seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, and the US and Britain have called on allies to join in an operation to guard ships passing through what is a vital gateway for the world’s oil industry.

“Front Altair is presently undergoing repairs and is expected to resume operation in the fourth quarter of 2019,” Frontline said in its second-quarter earnings report on Tuesday.

The 23 crew members, who were rescued by a nearby vessel, escaped unharmed.

“The company’s modern vessels are designed to withstand catastrophic events in order to ensure the safety of the crew and cargo,” it added.

The Front Altair had extensive insurance coverage and the impact on the company’s earnings is expected to be minor, Frontline said. Frontline’s net earnings for April to June swung to a profit of $1.1 million (SR4.1 million) from a $22.9 million loss in the same period last year, lagging the $3.1 million profit seen by analysts in a Refinitiv poll.

The Oslo-listed company, controlled by billionaire investor John Fredriksen, repeated expectations for a continued upturn in the oil transportation market.

“Against the backdrop of an expectation for a strong market for the balance of 2019 and into 2020, we believe we are exceptionally well positioned to create significant value to our shareholders,” Frontline said.

Already one of the world’s largest oil tanker owners, the company’s fleet is set to rise to 75 vessels following the announcement last week of an acquisition of 10 Suezmax tankers from trading house Trafigura.


Japan’s Uniqlo pulls ad after South Korean fury

Updated 21 October 2019

Japan’s Uniqlo pulls ad after South Korean fury

  • South Korean and Japanese relationship is deeply strained by the legacy of Tokyo’s 20th-century expansionism
  • Seoul and Tokyo are currently locked in a bitter trade and diplomatic row stemming from historical disputes
SEOUL: Japanese retail giant Uniqlo has pulled a commercial featuring a 98-year-old US fashion figure from South Korean screens, it said Monday after it was accused of whitewashing colonial history.
South Korea and Japan are both US allies, democracies and market economies faced with an overbearing China and nuclear-armed North Korea, but their relationship is deeply strained by the legacy of Tokyo’s 20th-century expansionism.
The latest example is an advert for Uniqlo fleeces showing elderly fashion celebrity Iris Apfel chatting with designer Kheris Rogers, 85 years her junior.
The last line has the white-haired Apfel, asked how she used to dress as a teenager, innocuously responding: “Oh my God. I can’t remember that far back.”
But Uniqlo’s Korean arm subtitled its version of the ad slightly differently, reading: “I can’t remember things that happened more than 80 years ago.”
That would put the moment as 1939, toward the end of Japan’s brutal colonial rule over the Korean peninsula, where the period is still bitterly resented, and some South Koreans reacted furiously.
“A nation that forgets history has no future. We can’t forget what happened 80 years ago that Uniqlo made fun of,” commented one Internet user on Naver, the country’s largest portal.
The phrase “Uniqlo, comfort women,” in reference to women forced to become sex slaves to Japanese troops during the Second World War, was among the most searched terms on Naver at the weekend, and demonstrators protested outside Uniqlo shops on Monday.
Seoul and Tokyo are currently locked in a bitter trade and diplomatic row stemming from historical disputes, and South Korean consumers have mounted boycotts of Japanese products.
Uniqlo — which has 186 stores in South Korea — has itself been one of the highest-profile targets, while Japanese carmakers’ sales dropped nearly 60 percent year-on-year in September.
The company denied the allegations in a statement, saying the text was altered to highlight the age gap between the individuals and show that its fleeces were for people “across generations.”
“The ad had no intention whatsoever to imply anything” about colonial rule, a Uniqlo representative said on Monday, adding the firm had withdrawn the ad in an effort at damage control.
Analysts said the controversy demonstrated the politicization of the neighbors’ complex history.
The reaction was excessive, said Kim Sung-han, a former foreign affairs vice minister who teaches at Korea University, involving a “jump in logic” that “assumes everything Uniqlo does is political as a Japanese company.”
“I don’t see how her remark could be linked to the comfort women issue,” he added. “This is overly sensitive.”