The president of the Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo, the international shipping firm that operated one of the two oil tankers allegedly attacked by Iranian forces Thursday, said Friday their ship was not the target of a strike ordered by Tehran.
Company President Yutaka Katada said the damage incurred to the M/T Kokuka Courageous oil tanker during its voyage through the Gulf of Oman was caused by “a flying object” and not a maritime explosive device. Based on eyewitness accounts from crew members aboard the vessel at the time of the attack, “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship,” Mr. Katada said.
The New York Times first reported Mr. Katada’s comments regarding Thursday’s attack. Further, the company chief said there was “zero possibility that they were torpedoes” or mines or any other sea-based munition that caused the damage aboard the M/T Kokuka Courageous.
His statements come hours after British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said London has “no reason not to believe the American assessment” that the M/T Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-flagged M/T Altair were attacked by Iranian forces.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that Washington had irrefutable evidence of Iranian involvement in the tanker attacks.
“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Officials from U.S. Central Command released a video late Thursday of a Gashti-class Iranian patrol boat with members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) removing an unexploded limpet sea mine from the hull of the Kokuka Courageous.