The oil tanker crew saw a & # 39; flying object & # 39; come to them before the ship was hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman yesterday, the owner of the vessel said – and the theory of America doubts that it was attacked with a mud mine.
Yutaka Katada said that & # 39; something was flying on the ship & # 39 ;, punched a hole in the Kokuka Courageous, started a fire and forced the crew to evacuate.
The chief of the shipping company said the weapon had not been a torpedo and revealed that the US Navy was now taking the affected ship to the UAE.
He also said it was unlikely that the ship was targeted because of its Japanese property – a theory suggested by Iran as the attacks came during talks with the Japanese Prime Minister yesterday.
Washington claims that Iran was behind the attacks and yesterday published images claiming to show an Iranian patrol boat picking up an unexploded mine from the Kokuka.
Yutaka Katada, president of the Japanese company that attacked one of the oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, shows today a photo of the attacked ship
The 21 crew members of the ship have since returned to the ship and the cargo of 25,000 tons of methanol destined for Singapore is undamaged.
Katada, the head of the Kokuka Sangyo company, said the tanker had had two apparent attacks.
After the first, crew members made evasive maneuvers, but three hours later it was hit again, & he said.
He described the second explosion today and said: & The crew members say they were hit by a flying object. They saw it with their own eyes.
& # 39; We have received a report stating that something appears to have flown in, there has been an explosion and a hole has been created in the body of the ship. & # 39;
A crew member suffered minor injuries in the blasts, which caused the tensions in the Middle East to rise again.
American sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) provide assistance to the crew of the Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman
The owner of the Kokuka Courageous (file photo) said it was unlikely that the ship was targeted because of its Japanese ownership – a theory suggested by Iran
& # 39; Crew members returned to the ship with the support of the US Army and retrieved the backup power source, & # 39; said Katada.
& # 39; We will look at the overall damage, but we do not think it is likely that it will sink. There is no damage to the goods and fuel. & # 39;
The United States has blamed Iran for attacking the Kokuka Courageous and another tanker, the Front Altair in Norwegian hands, on Thursday, but Tehran has denied the allegations.
The ship's crew saw an Iranian military ship nearby on Thursday night in Japan, Katada said.
Katada said he did not believe that Kokuka Courageous was the target because it was owned by a Japanese company. The tanker is registered in Panama and flew a Panamanian flag, he said.
"Unless examined very carefully, it would be difficult to tell that the tanker was operated or owned by the Japanese," he said.
A diagram showing the US and Iranian forces in the region and the location of recent attacks on oil tankers and a Saudi oil pipeline that have escalated tensions in the Middle East
The US Army released a video Friday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard removed an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz
The tanker was attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, an important strategic waterway where around a fifth of global oil consumption finds its way from producers from the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the UAE, Kuwait and Iran.
& # 39; This street is very crucial. Without this route, we cannot transport gasoline and heavy oil to Japan, & Katada said.
& # 39; Unless another major incident occurs, as long as we receive approval from our crew, we will continue to use our tankers along this route to Saudi Arabia. & # 39;
Japanese Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said on Friday that the incidents will be discussed this weekend at a meeting of G20 energy and environment ministers.
Seko declined to comment on US officials accusing Iran, and said Japan is still investigating the incident that took place while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran to help ease the rising tensions between the United States and Iran.
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