More details are now emerging on yesterday’s attacks on two tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. It now seems certain that the explosions were caused by limpet mines.
Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a press briefing that it was the assessment of the United States Government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks.
Now the U.S. has released video showing Iranian personnel removing an unexploded mine from the hull of one of the two ships.
According to Central Command, U.S. Naval Forces in the region yesterday received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time from the motor tanker Front Altair and a second one at 7a.m. local time from the Kokuka Courageous.
Both vessels were in international waters in the Gulf of Oman approximately 10 nautical miles apart at the time of the distress calls. USS Bainbridge was approximately 40 nautical miles away from the Front Altair at the time of the attack, and immediately began closing the distance.
At 8:09 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observed an IRGC Hendijan class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) in the vicinity of the Front Altair.
At 9:12 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observed the FAC/FIAC pull a raft from the Front Altair from the water.
At 9:26 a.m. local time the Iranians requested that the motor vessel Hyundai Dubai, which had rescued the sailors from the Front Altair, to turn the crew over to the Iranian FIACs. The Hyundai Dubai complied with the request and transfered the crew of the Front Altair to the Iranian FIACs.
At 11:05 a.m. local time USS Bainbridge approached the Dutch tug Coastal Ace, which had rescued the crew of twenty-one sailors from the Kokuka Courageous, They had abandoned their ship after discovering a probable unexploded limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion.
While an Iranian Hendijan class patrol boat appeared to attempt to get to the tug Coastal Ace before USS Bainbridge, the mariners were rescued by USS Bainbridge at the request of the master of the Kokuka Courageous. The rescued sailors are currently aboard USS Bainbridge.
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.