Britain’s maritime trade agency reported a “potential hijack” was under way off the coast of the United Arab Emirates’ Fujairah region, without giving details on the vessel or vessels involved.
The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) organisation had warned ships earlier on Tuesday that “an incident” was taking place.
It had also advised vessels in the area of Fujairah to exercise caution, based on a third-party source.
The UK foreign office said it was urgently investigating the incident.
Earlier on Tuesday afternoon at least five ships in the sea between the UAE and Iran updated their AIS tracking status to “Not Under Command”, according to Refinitiv ship tracking data. Such a status generally indicates a ship is unable to manoeuvre due to exceptional circumstances.
It was not clear whether this had any connection to the reported incident.
The area in the Arabian Sea leads to the Strait of Hormuz, through which about a fifth of the world’s seaborne oil exports flow.
This comes after a drone attack last week on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman left a British citizen dead.
Britain, the US and Israel have blamed Tehran for the attack.
The UK’s Foreign Office has said that it believes the strike on the oil tanker was “deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran”.
The UK’s minister for digital infrastructure, Matt Warman, said on Monday that “all the evidence that we see points to the fact that it was Iranian action”.
The Iranian government has denied responsibility, but the British government warned Tehran that it was working with allies “on a concerted response to this unacceptable attack”.
Additional reporting by Reuters