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Gulf of Oman: Japanese/Norwegian tankers attacked

 
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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 12:05 am    Post subject: Gulf of Oman: Japanese/Norwegian tankers attacked Reply with quote

Japanese Ship Owner Contradicts US Officials on Tanker Attack
Trump Reiterates Pompeo's Claims, Britain Agrees With US Assessment
Dave DeCamp Posted on June 14, 2019Categories News
https://news.antiwar.com/2019/06/14/japanese-ship-owner-contradicts-us -officials-on-tanker-attack/

The owner of the Japanese tanker that was attacked on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, the Kokuka Courageous, contradicted the US military’s claims about the attack. Central Command reported that the two tankers were hit with limpet mines, a type of mine that is attached to the hull of a ship below the waterline using magnets. But Yutaka Katada, the owner of the Kokuka Courageous, said he received reports a projectile hit the ship.

"We received reports that something flew towards the ship," Katada said at a press conference, "The place where the projectile landed was significantly higher than the water level, so we are absolutely sure that this wasn’t a torpedo. I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship."

US Central Command released a grainy black and white video of a boat alongside a ship, claiming it was an Iranian patrol boat removing a limpet mine from the Kokuka Courageous, the claim being they were getting rid of the evidence. The video does not conclusively prove anything, as it is hard to tell what the boat is doing. Iranian state media said Iran rescued the crew of both tankers, so the video could have just been a recording of the rescue efforts.

In an interview with Fox and Friends Friday morning, President Trump blamed Iran for the attacks on the tankers. Trump cited the video as proof, "Well Iran did do it, and you know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it."

Trump, who has been known to sometimes contradict his more hawkish cabinet members, fell in line with his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who on Thursday, accused Iran of attacking the tankers with no evidence to back up his claim.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt made a statement on Friday, "We are going to make our own independent assessment, we have our processes to do that, (but) we have no reason not to believe the American assessment and our instinct is to believe it because they are our closest ally."

No US officials have responded to the Japanese ship owner’s claims.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Second hour Investigative reports: Tankers attacked in Straits of Hormuz – US blames Iran – or is it a false flag?: US-Iran tensions rise as Pentagon releases video of oil tanker attack; Mike Pompeo on the attack and why he thinks Iran did it – list of attacks he thinks Iran has committed; ‘We lie, we cheat, we kill’ says Pompeo at talk to students; Jonathan Cohen became Acting Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations saying Iran said would disrupt Straits of Hormuz; Dan Damon on BBC World Service - interview with Dr. Mohammad Marandi from Tehran University – explaining why we can’t believe the US; World Service again – interview with Aniseh Tabrizi from Royal United Services Institute – false flag operation? psychological war, and Centcom; Houthi rebels attacking Saudi Arabia; Yemeni Army captures military outposts in southern Saudi Arabia - Yemen's Houthis claim seizing 20 positions in Saudi Arabia Houthi spokesman says 'surprise' push in kingdom's Najran province caused heavy losses to Saudi-led coalition's forces. - Arms sales – to Qatar and Bahrain; Rand Paul says US is arming it’s enemy – Saudi Arabia; parallels with war in Iraq – Tony Benn on war with Iraq. UK special forces join US strike group in Persian Gulf as tensions mount. US admitting use of dirty tricks to get Iran war started. Brookings Institution: Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran - Which Path to Persia PDF
https://politicsthisweek.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/bcfms-weekly-politic s-show-presented-by-tony-gosling-152/

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SBS were in Gulf of Oman

Iran threat: UK special forces join US strike group in Persian Gulf as tensions mount
https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1129203/iran-news-uk-special-forc es-us-strike-group-persian-gulf-ww3

BRITISH SPECIAL FORCES have been flown into the Middle East as part of a secret contingency operation to counter potential Iranian attacks on UK merchant shipping transiting the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf.
By MARCO GIANNANGELI
PUBLISHED: 12:52, Sun, May 19, 2019 | UPDATED: 21:21, Sun, May 19, 2019

It follows a ratcheting of tension in the region, with the US deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf in response to what it said were credible threats from Iranian forces. And last night one of the US’ most senior diplomats warned Iran not to underestimate President Trump’s resolve for military action. In Britain, the Foreign Office has warned British-Iranians not to travel to the country in case they are detained. Now two SBS teams have joined UK registered oil tankers transiting in the Persian Gulf south through the Strait of Hormuz, where they will be tasked with monitoring Iranian activity around the island of Qesham - home to Iranian naval gunboats. Both teams will collate information as the ships move south through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Gulf of Oman, where it is understood they will be airlifted off by Royal Navy Merlin helicopters operating out of Oman.

Just days ago four oil tankers were attacked with explosive devices south of the port of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman, regularly used by the Royal Navy as a crew change stop and logistics hub for its nuclear powered hunter killer submarines.

Military analysts believe the attacks were mounted by Iranian special forces to demonstrate how easy it would be for Tehran to close down the Strait of Hormuz and bring oil exports to a halt if Washington continues to threaten the Islamic Republic.

Britain and the US seemed to display a rare difference in policies over the middle east last week when the Pentagon publicly corrected a statement from Maj-Gen Chris Ghika, the UK’s military commander in the US-led mission against Islamic State, that “there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria”.

But sources later explained that Maj-Gen Ghika had not been briefed about the amount of new intelligence he could reveal.

UK SBS
British Special Forces have been sent to counter potential Iranian attacks on the UK (Image: Guy Channing/ DPL)
Iran

President Donald Trump sent a US aircraft carrier battle group to the Gulf (Image: GETTY)
And, despite not joining the US in quitting the now discredited Iran nuclear deal, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed that the UK “shared the same assessment of the heightened threat posed by Iran.”

Tehran’s regional stranglehold is based on its desire to build a “land bridge” connecting Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon in order to more easily support Hezbollah forces.

It also continues to sponsor terrorism in Europe, including a failed bomb plot at a conference of Iranian dissidents - attended by US diplomats -in Paris last year.

But differences within the US administration are also causing concern, with both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton accused of “writing cheques that President Trump won’t cash” with their strong anti-Iranian messages.

Last week the US commander-in-chief slammed as “fake news” reports that the US was poised to send 120,000 soldiers to counter Iranian aggression in the region.

Trump

Trump declared reports that the US was to send soldiers to Iran was "fake news" (Image: GETTY)
“Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that,” he said, adding: “I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon.”

It caused some experts to suggest his open aversion to foreign entanglement and military conflict had sent a signal to Tehran that it had free rein in the region.

“Recent intelligence is real and the UK is concerned about it,” said regional analyst Kyle Orton.

“Tehran has moved from merely monitoring Western installations to an more active phase. We saw it play out on attacks on shipping this week. There’s no serious doubt that Iran was behind them. It’s a case of whether Iran will go back to asserting itself in the front line which is iraq.”

He said President Trump’s publicly-stated isolationism was emboldening Iran.

Ryan Crocker

Crocker has warned Iran against underestimating Trump's willingness to launch a strike (Image: GETTY)
Iran: UK raises threat level for British troops in Iraq
Play Video
“Iran has very little restraint right now. It already has what it wants on the ground, and is already able to take cities in Iraq and southern Syria, even on Israel’s border,” he said.

“US policy has been to focus only on ISIS. Centcom (Coalition central command) said last year that if Iran wanted to take Eastern Syria, that would be okay.

“People in his administration realise he’s not going to do anything serious other than try to get what he calls a ‘better deal’. So Pompeo’s rhetoric can take him only so far.

“And there are those close to the Iranian regime who say one of the reasons Iran has acted at all against the Trump administration’s rhetorical escalations is to force him to show his hand. They’re calling his bluff.”

But seasoned US diplomat Amb Ryan Crocker warned that Iran should not underestimate Trump’s willingness to launch a military strike.

RELATED ARTICLES

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US-Iran crisis: B-52 bombers leave Qatar to 'send message' to Iran
“It is very much the case that Trump is quite cautious in foreign affairs, particularly in respect to use of military force in other countries. Trump is highly transactional. US foreign policy is transactional,“ said the diplomat, a fluent Farsi speaker dubbed ‘America’s Lawrence of Arabia’ after serving as US ambassador to Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The fact that there’s a carrier strike force in the Gulf isn’t new. In the mid-1990s there was a strike force in the Gulf at all times. As a career diplomat I became fond of the term that an aircraft carrier is 100,000 tonnes of diplomacy.

“But I hope the Iranians don’t misunderstand. It would be a dangerous mistake to interpreted this to mean they have a free hand and that Trump will not resort to military action.

“He’s not a pacifist, he just has a very high threshold, and that’s a good thing.

Jeremy Hunt

Foreign Secretary Hunt says the UK shares the view that Iran poses a heightened threat to peace (Image: GETTY)
"HIs correction that it would take a much larger force to counter Iran was correct, and should leave Iran more, not less, worried."

Last night a British military source said: “The Iranians watch and record everything that transits through the Strait of Hormuz - we are doing the same, no more.

"The Strait is regularly packed with hundreds of small vessels and could easily be closed down with suicide boats.

"This is a waterway where 80 per cent of the UK gas and much of our oil passes from the Gulf to Europe.”

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Japan Dismisses US Claim that Iran Attacked TankersJune 16, 2019 by mosesman
http://socioecohistory.x10host.com/2019/06/16/japan-dismisses-us-claim -that-iran-attacked-tankers/#

A picture obtained by AFP from the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency on June 13 reportedly shows fire and smoke billowing from Norwegian-owned Front Altair tanker said to have been attacked in the waters of the Gulf of Oman, less than 100 miles from the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. has officially blamed Iran for the attacks, producing what was purported to be evidence amid Iranian denials.
IRANIAN STUDENTS’ NEWS AGENCY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Japan Dismisses US Claim that Iran Attacked Tankers
by https://www.presstv.com/
Japanese officials say Tokyo has dismissed a claim by the United States that Iran attacked two oil tankers — both of them carrying “Japanese-related” cargo — in the Sea of Oman.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency cited informed state officials as saying Tokyo had demanded that Washington examine the case further, and that grainy video footage released by the US as supposed evidence was unclear and could not be used to prove anything. One official said the Japanese government was not convinced by the material, which the official called “nothing beyond speculation.” The official said Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono had in a Friday phone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded more data in the case.

The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous and Norwegian-owned Front Altair oil tankers were struck by explosions near the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Thursday morning. Japan’s government said both vessels were carrying “Japanese-related” cargo.

Shortly after the two tankers were hit by the explosions, Pompeo blamed Iran. A day later, US President Donald Trump made a similar claim. Neither offered any evidence, and the footage that was released was said by US officials to show Iranian personnel removing an “unexploded” mine. Iran has rejected the allegations.

Experts have said the explosions could have been false flags to implicate Iran at the time of a historic visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Iran, a first of its kind in more than 40 years. Prime Minister Abe was meeting with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei when the explosions happened. According to Kyodo, a source close to Prime Minister Abe also said that the footage did not prove an Iranian attack.

Separately, a Japanese Foreign Ministry source said the attack being sophisticated was no reason to blame Iran. Such a characteristic, according to the source, could also implicate the US and Israel — Iran’s main adversaries. The Japanese operator of one of the tankers also said it had been hit by “a flying object,” not a mine.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Analysis of the Straight of Hormuz Ship Attacks
By Scott Bennett

The alleged attack upon the oil tanker ships in the Persian Gulf on Thursday was, by all reasonable analysis, a ridiculously clumsy attempt to frame Iran and create a political situation that might be over-developed into another “Iraq War.” At the same time it is the political logic which suggests that Iran was more likely the intended target and victim of a “false-flag” hoax, since one of the ships was Japanese, and the Japanese Prime Minister was visiting Iran at the time of the attack attempting to broker a political solution to the US-Iran tensions and sanctions, and provoking a war through a secret attack would destroy any hope of Iran being trusted by other nations. So most likely this was an attack executed by nation states which above all things seek to damage or destroy Iran—which immediately makes Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States as the most likely perpetrators.

However the forensic evidence indicates that the claim that a limpet mine was attached to the boat by divers is not consistent with the holes in the ship that are high above the water line. Additionally the crew on the ship have claimed that “flying objects” were fired at the ship, which would suggest missiles or grenades fired from either a dolphin class submarine—which the Israelis purchased from Germany—or a smaller boat.

The clamorous and emotionally driven claims by the U.S., Britain, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, that Iran is to blame, is based more on bloodlust and a quest to continue the neocon-zionist agenda of world domination, rather than on evidence or logic. Unfortunately emotional hysteria and religious bigotry and distrust seems to be driving western foreign policy, rather than pragmatism, common sense, and reality. However President Donald Trump, despite some of the political rhetoric he has used, knows that another war in the Middle East started by America would not only mean the end of his Presidency, but could quite possibly result in his impeachment or assassination, since the world is simmering with resentment at the past 19 years of destruction and death caused by the “Terror Wars” of the United States. Hopefully Trump will not fall victim to the military industrial complex and neocon warmongers who started the wars in the first place.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The curious case of the tankers
12663 ViewsJune 14, 2019 98 Comments
by Nat South for The Saker Blog
https://thesaker.is/the-curious-case-of-the-tankers/

I have taken the opportunity to look at the recent incident involving two outbound tankers in the Gulf of Oman. I have got some questions or two, (or three) about certain parts of the incident, from a civilian mariner’s perspective mostly.

There are various conflating aspects to the event, and questions need to be asked, yet journalists do not seemingly wish to ask the awkward but necessary questions these days.

Background

The two tankers identified as the ‘Front Altair’, a Marshall Islands flagged vessel and the ‘Kokuka Courageous’, a Panama-flagged vessel.

Front Altair Kokuka Courageous
Managed by Frontline, (Norway – Bermuda) Managed by Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (Singapore/ Japan)
23 crew
(11 Russian, 11 Philippine, 1 Georgian)

21 crew (Philippine)
Aframax – 86% loaded Handy – fully loaded
75,000 MT of Naphtha 25,000 MT Methanol
Ruwais, UAE Qatar & KSA
Taiwan Singapore
Hyundai Dubai rescued crew Coastal Ace rescued crew
Transferred by SAR boat to Iranian port Transferred to USS Bainbridge
Radio message: “torpedo attack” Japanese CEO: “flying objects”
Hit on starboard amidships – “in fire’ Hit on starboard Twice over 3-hour period – engine room fire
Stopped at 02:47GMT Stopped at 06:20GMT
Both tankers were outbound (south east) of the Strait of Hormuz. Both suffered from explosion on the starboard side, (the side facing international waters). Past AIS tracks of both vessels shown here. The U.S. Navy reported receiving distress messages at 06:12am and 07:00am.

Embedded video

MarineTraffic

@MarineTraffic
We’ve captured the activity of the vessels that raced to the area to help the crew of #FrontAltair & #Kokuka Courageous.
Watch the vessels #Hyundai Dubai, #Etwo, #CoastalAce & #NAJI10 in this past track video. #MarineTraffic #GulfOfOman #OOTT #tankers #rescue #Iran

187
12:55 PM - Jun 14, 2019
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The activity of the vessels was captured in this past AIS track video. It shows the vessels that went to the tankers, to help the crew of the tankers. The assisting vessels are: Hyundai Dubai, tug ‘E-Two’, the Coastal Ace & ‘Naji 10’.
Contradictions and questions

The US military released a video claiming to show an Iranian naval boat removing an unexploded limpet mine from the hull of the ‘Kokuka Courageous’ in an apparent attempt to recover evidence of its participation. I will comment more about the video later on, but we have already the ludicrous situation where the information provided by the US contradicts the statement made by the Japanese ship management company, who did not believe the ship was damaged by a mine, but by flying objects. The president of Kokuka Sangyo Marine, (shipowners), Yutaka Katada, said “there is no possibility of mine attack as the attack is well above the waterline.”

https://twitter.com/nhk_news/status/1139114208463872001



Embedded video

NHKニュース

@nhk_news
タンカー運航の国華産業社長「砲弾による攻撃を受けた」https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20190613/k1 0011951311000.html …#nhk_news #nhk_video

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Questions, questions: then there is the question of timing of an attack of a Japanese owned tanker at a time when the Japanese PM was in Iran for talks.

To add to the confusion, there were reports that the Dutch crew of the ‘Coastal Ace’ who first noted a suspicious object on the hull of the tanker. This then morphed into reports that the USS Bainbridge seeing a suspect device, as shown in the timeline provided by the US Navy.

Regarding the other tanker, ‘Front Altair’, the ‘Hyundai Dubai’ was the first ship on scene who responded to the distress message and rescued the crew. Subsequently, it seems the master of this vessel gave a report on VHF: video & audio (unconfirmed).

The audio is rather telling & factual (it is a Russian speaker apparently), as he relays information from the ‘Front Altair’, ‘torpedo attack” is mentioned. (I am assuming is it is pan, pan or urgency message; it is not a distress message).

The U.S. by releasing a grainy black & white video segment, accused Iran of removing a mine from the other tanker, ‘Kokuka Courageous’, as apparent evidence of its involvement in the attacks of the two tankers. The video raises more questions than provides answers.

If both the civilian crew of the ‘Coastal Ace’ and the ‘USS Bainbridge’ both saw the ‘mine’, late morning, then why leave the important evidence in place on the hull of the tanker for several hours? For the Iranians to pick it up later?

https://www.cusnc.navy.mil/Media/News/Display/Article/1874301/statemen t-regarding-shipping-vessels-in-gulf-of-oman/

“USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) was operating in the vicinity and provided immediate assistance to the M/V Kokuka Courageous.”

Immediate? Note that assistance didn’t extend to making safe a suspicious device ‘immediately’.

“At 11:05 a.m. local time USS Bainbridge approaches the Dutch tug Coastal Ace, which had rescued the crew of twenty-one sailors from the M/T Kokuka Courageous who had abandoned their ship after discovering a probable unexploded limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion.”

“At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.”

Timings put in bold for emphasis by author.

The poor quality of the video, apparently taken from a P-8 US navy aircraft, is astounding, given that it took place at 16:00, on a sunlit day. Compare the quality and availability of the metrics between what happened during the encounter between the ‘Admiral Vinogradov’ and the ‘USS Chancellorsville, last week:





I know that optical quality is downgraded for security reasons, but this is beyond a joke in the days of HD and high-quality images on mobile phones.

Not exactly covert, to retrieve a ‘mine’ right under the noses of the US Navy? Especially when you can see in the video people on the Iranian boat looking towards a ship (?) and quite possibly the US aircraft as well. Anyway, does it take 10 people all crowded on the bow to remove a ‘mine’? Unusual EOD method there.

Does it occur to anyone that it might be a person releasing something so that the boat can leave the tanker’s side, a mooring line attachment, a magnetic device? There is no proof to suggest it was a limpet mine removed from the tanker.

The other thing that really bugs me as someone with maritime experience, is the fact that the US Navy was quite relaxed about a fully loaded tanker with methanol with an apparent explosive device attached to the hull amidships.

I personally wouldn’t be calm, due to the implication of having a toxic, polluting and highly flammable cargo, possibly seconds from being ignited. I’d be getting an EOD team over quickly to ID it, to make it safe and hand it over as a crucial piece of evidence. Yet, I cannot ascertain that any of that actually happened while the USS Bainbridge was in the vicinity of the tanker. I guess it was better to wait a few hours and let the Iranians do it. Surreal.

Instead, it seems that the US Navy stood by idly for hours, watched and let the Iranians approach the tanker, so as to gather ‘evidence’.

Another thing, this PowerPoint from the US is rather remarkable:



I guess using a telephoto lens wasn’t appropriate, to get a close-up of the darned ‘mine’ thing. Again, compare this with the US naval person on the ‘USS Chancellorsville’, merrily snapping away at the ‘Admiral Vinogradov’.



Just on this point, I like the witticism on social media:

“the Pentagon should start using Huawei cameras for better video quality”.

This a good ‘un too:

“Breaking: The US Navy has confirmed that there has been a reported attack on US tankers in the Gulf of Oman.” Posted by SkyNews at 12:37 am 13 June

Credibility has gone down the drain, as the tweet is still live as I write this a day later.

I know it seems little silly observations, but some of these observations could have been made by journalists when presented with official statements. Yet the most obvious question is:

“Why would Iran attack two tankers near to the Strait of Hormuz, in the vicinity of US naval forces”? Some comments provided by this Military Times article. I’ll leave that for others to comment and analyze.

I’ll add more in the comments section.

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