Video does not show a British oil tanker attacked off coast of Yemen

19 January 2024
What was claimed

A video shows a British oil tanker ablaze after a missile attack off the coast of Yemen.

Our verdict

The video shows a fire onboard a boat transporting goods to Somalia off the coast of Oman, not Yemen. There are no reports of such an incident on a British vessel at this location.

Posts circulating online falsely claim a video shows a British oil tanker on fire off the coast of Yemen. 

One post sharing the video, which shows a ship engulfed in flames and black smoke, has more than 5,000 shares. The caption says: “BREAKING: British oil tanker ablaze off the coast of Hodeidah, Yemen, following a missile strike! The situation is rapidly developing in the maritime region.”

The video has been shared across social media platforms—including Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok—with the same claim. 

However, the video does not show an incident in the Red Sea—it’s actually a ship off the coast of Oman that was transporting goods to Somalia. 

The claim comes amid reports of a 500% increase in attacks by the Houthi rebel group, who control large parts of Yemen, in the Red Sea between November and December 2023. The US and UK recently launched airstrikes against targets in Yemen in response to these attacks. 

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What does the video show?

The Royal Oman Police shared the video on 23 December with the caption (translated to English by Google): “A boat burned in the territorial waters of the Sultanate of Oman off the coast of the Hasik Niyabat in the Dhofar Governorate, loaded with a group of goods heading to the Republic of Somalia .”

This coast is situated on the Arabian Sea, not the Red Sea, which Oman does not have a coastline on. 

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations has no reports of a missile attack or fire on a British vessel in Oman waters on 23 December. The Ministry of Defence told Full Fact it had no further information on the incident in the video. 

According to the Oman police, all 11 crew members, who were reportedly of Indian nationality, were rescued from the vessel and one person was treated for minor injuries. The cause of the fire has not been reported. Full Fact has contacted the Royal Oman Police and will update the article if we hear back. 

Miscaptioned images and videos are common during significant news events. We’ve written about another example of old footage of a burning cargo ship from 2021 in Sri Lanka being falsely connected to recent events in the Red Sea. 

It’s important to verify whether content on social media shows what it claims to before sharing it online. Our guides on spotting misleading images and videos outline ways to do this. 

Image courtesy of Paul Harrison

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