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October 8, 2002

USN investigators join Limburg probe
At the request of the U.S. Department of State, a team from the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is joining the investigation into the explosion on board the French tanker Limburg in Yemeni waters on Sunday.

A Navy spokesman told Marine Log that the team would include members with post-blast and forensic experience. The team is going to Yemen from the NCIS's Manama, Bahrain field office. A French team, including representatives of both the DTS counterintelligence agency and Ministry of Transport officials is already on the scene.

The NCIS, of course, was closely involved in investigation of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole.

While the owners of the Limburg believe that the damage to the tanker was the result of an attack similar to that on the Cole, Yemeni authorities are maintaining that it may have been the result of an accident.

Yemeni authorities now say that the fire on the tanker has been extinguished and that an anti-pollution unit belonging to the Yemeni General Authority for Marine Affairs is succeeding in controlling the leakage of oil from the vessel. The General Director of the authority's Aden branch, Mohammad Abdullah Mubarak said that the fire destroyed only one of the ship's 19 cargo tanks.

The BBC says that journalists taken by Yemeni officials to look at the Limburg report a meter-wide hole, with tangled metal pointed outward, "suggesting an on-board blast. "

However, one expert contacted by Marine Log, Graham Shaw, managing partner of Underwater Security Consultants in London, commented that "while the initial blast would have most likely caused the ship's plating to be blasted inwards, it must be remembered that there is an inner hull. If there was a secondary explosion within this cavity between the inner and outer hulls, it would most likely have caused the ship's hull plating to blow outwards." But he emphasized that, without sighting the damage, it
was not possible to make further conjectures.

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