Japanese Tanker Owner Denies Ship Hit By Mine, Says Crew Saw “Flying Objects” Before Attack

Friday, June 14, 2019
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Fri, 06/14/2019

For a moment on Thursday, it appeared that the US Navy had produced the ‘smoking gun’ to which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had alluded during his statement from earlier in the day: CENTCOM footage which the Navy said purported to show Iran’s IRGC ‘caught in the act’ of trying to remove an unexploded mine from the Kokuka Courageous, one of the two tankers damaged in Thursday’s attacks.

CENTCOM said the video it released showed the IRGC removing an unexploded limpet mine from the side of one of the tankers, suggesting Tehran had sought to remove evidence from the scene.

After the video’s release, Iran continued to deny any involvement in the attacks. And perhaps now we know why.

In comments that cast the entire narrative promulgated by the US in doubt, Yutaka Katada, the president of Kokuka Sangyo, the owner and operator of the Kokuka Courageous, said Friday that he doesn’t completely believe Washington’s version of events.

Instead, he said the vessel wasn’t damaged by a mine, but by some kind of projectile, like, say, a torpedo. He called reports of a mine attack “false.” One reason is because a mine doesn’t damage a ship above sea level, like what was seen with the Courageous.

“A mine doesn’t damage a ship above sea level,” said Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo, the owner and operator of the vessel. “We aren’t sure exactly what hit, but it was something flying towards the ship,” he said.

Another is because of a suspicious sighting by some of the crew, according to Bloomberg.

According to the CEO, sailors on board the Courageous saw “flying objects” just before the ship was hit, suggesting the vessel wasn’t damaged by mines, but by objects that could have been fired from a distance.

Katada’s comments contradict Washington’s allegations of a mine attack, though the CEO did mention that his crew had spotted an Iranian Navy ship nearby around the time of the attack, though he didn’t say whether it was before or after.

The Courageous was carrying 225,000 tons of methanol from Saudi Arabia to Asia and was flying a Panama flag at the time of the attack. Analysts immediately noted the poor timing for Tehran: The attack occurred just as senior Iranian leaders were meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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