Checkpoint Asia

Japanese Tanker Owner Disputes US Narrative, Says Crew Saw “Flying Objects” Before Attack

Says crew witnessed "the second shot", calls reports of mine attack "false"

The Japanese operator ship operator of one of two oil tankers attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday said that sailors on board its vessel, the Kokuka Courageous, saw “flying objects” just before the attack, suggesting the tanker wasn’t damaged by mines.

That account contradicts what the U.S. military has said as it released a video it says shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the two ships in the suspected attack.

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo Co, said he believes the flying objects seen by the sailors could be bullets, and denied possibility of mines or torpedoes because the damages were above the ship’s waterline. He called reports of mine attack “false.”

Katada said the crew members also spotted an Iranian naval ship nearby, but did not specify whether that was before or after the attacks. The tanker survived the first attack that hit near the engine room, followed by another causing damage to the star-board side toward the back.

Source: Japan Today

Bloomberg:

But in remarks to Japanese media, the president of the company that owns the ship said the vessel wasn’t damaged by a mine. “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.

Reuters:

“The crew told us something came flying at the ship, and they found a hole,” Katada said. “Then some crew witnessed the second shot.”