As Pentagon releases further images, Hormuz attacks become clearer

As Pentagon releases further images, Hormuz attacks become clearer

Keen to build a stronger case against Iran, the United States military yesterday released more images of what it claims is the damage caused by Iranian limpet mines to the Japanese-controlled Kokuka Courageous product tanker. The ship was one of two to have come under attack last Thursday. Both the Kokuka Courageous and the Frontline-controlled Front Altair LR2 tanker are now in UAE waters, where investigations proceed.

The images made public by the Pentagon add to the grainy black and white footage earlier showing a team on a patrol boat removing something off the hull of the Kokuka Courageous. The new images clearly show a sizeable hole punctured on the side of the Japanese ship’s hull, which if proved correct, would dismiss earlier conjecture that the attacks involved torpedoes.

Limpet mines were also used against four tankers anchored off Fujairah last month.

“Iran is responsible for the attack based on video evidence and the resources and proficiency needed to quickly remove the unexploded limpet mine,” US Central Command said in a statement yesterday.

The narrative emerging from sources close to the Kokuka Courageous is that one mine went off while transiting the Strait of Hormuz and when crew were inspecting the side of the damaged ship soon after they spotted another limpet mine at which point the order was given to abandon ship.

Meanwhile, Splash understands the Front Altair, which suffered far more severe damage to its starboard hull, has been granted permission to proceed to an anchorage in the United Arab Emirates after surveyors had confirmed the ship’s safety. The crew is reboarding the ship with a view to carrying out a ship-to-ship transfer later this week. No pollution has been reported from the John Fredriksen-owned ship. Splash understands the attack damaged the Front Altair’s ballast tank and number three cargo tank.

Maritime security specialists Ambrey have issued a report in which they pinpoint exactly where they believe the attacks took place.

“It is likely the explosions were the result of limpet mines, placed while the vessels were underway,” Ambrey pointed out.

There are a limited number of occasions where the placement of limpet mines would have been likely. In the hours before the attack, both vessels had travelled similar routes, skirting the limit of Iran’s territorial waters on exit eastbound from the Strait of Hormuz. Prior to this, the Front Altair had loaded at Al Ruwais and the Kokuka Courageous at Al Jubail, the latter moving via a holding location in the Gulf. Ambrey stated that it is highly unlikely that the perpetrators of this attack would accept the degree of risk associated with placing explosive devices whilst the targets loaded at either location. It is more probable, Ambrey posited, the vessels were targeted as they slowed and their routes coincided, beginning in position 26 ̊11’N 54 ̊22’E – west of Sirri and Faror Islands.

“In the hours prior to the incident, and on the route taken by the target vessels, night fell from approximately 26 ̊19’17”N 55 ̊55’40”E to 25 ̊51’52”N 57 ̊00’26”E. This would have afforded the perpetrators about 84nm in which to deploy with minimal exposure, and thereafter detonate the devices 27nm SW of Bandar-e-Jask which, if it were the Iranians, afforded an opportunity to control the message,” Ambrey suggested.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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6 Comments

  1. Avatar
    David McBrayer
    June 18, 2019 at 9:39 pm

    The tape measure in the third image is puzzling to me. In a region where metric units of measure are nearly universal, why is the tape measure marked only with with imperial units? Who is holding that measuring tape and what is their affiliation?

    1. Avatar
      Karl Svensson
      June 19, 2019 at 2:30 pm

      Most of the region only changed to metric measures within the last seven years and most measures sold are either old stock imperial or dual measure. People mainly still “think” imperial measurements and say things like, I need a 12ft piece of carpet. However as an American sailor has taken the photos I assume he’s using his own measure.

  2. Avatar
    Ed Enos
    June 19, 2019 at 8:49 am

    US Navy ship sailor, likely, that is escorting ships. They are supplying the evidence, so likely took the photo with an American tape measure.

  3. Avatar
    Me Swo
    June 19, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    The q is why the tape is yellow and not white…or…green…or other color… i dont like yellow.

  4. Avatar
    Ardeshir
    June 20, 2019 at 2:09 am

    Has Persian Gulf Times any credible proof actually showing Iranian forces installing/attaching mins near or to the tanker itself?! This is nothing but a sick joke perpetrated by Zio terrorist states such as the USA, ISRAHELL AND SAUDI ARABIA. STAGING AN ATTACK IS NO LONGER CREDIBLE. IRAN, RUSSIA, CHINA, GERMANY AND MANY OTHER COUNTRIES STILL AWAIT A CREDIBLE EVIDENCE. IF THE ZIO TERRORISTS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PRODUCE SOLID EVIDENCE, THEN THEY HAVE TO PROVE THEY DID NOT STAGE THE ATTACKS, OTHERWISE THEY SHOUL SHUT UP. THE USA, ISRAHELL, SAUDI ARABIA AND THEIR SATELLITES CONSTITUTE THE AXIS OF ZIO TRRORISM. THE WORLD HAS CHANGED, THESE CRIMINAL TERRORISTS WE BE DEALT WITH ACCORDINGLY BY THE NEW EMERGING POWERS. YANKEE WILL GO HOME.

  5. Avatar
    Ardeshir
    June 20, 2019 at 2:17 am

    It is obvious it is all staged. We still await the USA to release the solid evidence for chemical attacks in Syria. This is a staged attack by the Zio terrorist Yankees and Israhell to blackmail Iran. It will not work. The world is against it. Yankees will never attack Iran, they will not have the guts.