Attack on Tankers in Gulf of Oman

Image reportedly showing smoke coming from one of the tankers said to have been attacked, May 13, 2019 © AFP PHOTO / HO / IRIB

You have probably heard about the recent attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The State Department has concluded that Iran is responsible.

We are not privy to all their sources, but the US has been fooled before. Military Times discusses why responsibility may not be clear. Just the fact that the price of oil went up 4% would mean that fore knowledge of the attack could have been worth a fortune in the futures market. Any number of people could be beneficiaries. Lots of folks would like to see the US take Iran down a notch or two. Even if Iranians did it, they might not have been acting on behalf of the central government. The cargoes were destined for Taiwan, could that mean the Chinese did it?

The Middle East is never short of intrigue. It is a place made for conspiracy theories.

Eaglespeak, who does think the Iranians are behind the attack, has a good summary of the situation including information on a recent fire that destroyed or damaged several ships in an Iranian port that I had not heard about before.

I would not be surprised to see units for the Coast Guard’s PATFORSWA keeping an eye on this area.

17 thoughts on “Attack on Tankers in Gulf of Oman

  1. I think it is a bit simplistic of some just to blame Iran automatically. As you say 4% rise in a multi-trillion dollar market is a lot.

    The fires interest me. Could there have been a binary charge? One to breach the hull and tank wall, and then another to ignite the crude? Or would one be enough?

      • Yes. Very hard to sink. I am just wondering about the ignition of the crude. Crude can burn. But the mine needs to have punctured the outer hull, the inner hull, and then ignite a fire.

      • From what I heard neither of these was carrying crude. Have to wonder if that was a coincident of a calculated rationale for choice of target.

    • I don’t think blaming Iran was a simplistic mistake. There was a drone over the action and got video footage AND was shot at by Iranian SAMs (their version of the Soviet SA-6). Jumping to the conclusion the administration is jumping to conclusions is simplistic. If one wants to criticize this administration, it would be easier to say they have no pause button and have diarrhea of the mouth, but they’re not wrong or simplistic.

      I’m more worried in the larger perspective with Iran that the President is against forceful foreign intervention. After the worse-than-Chamberlain appeasement, we need someone who is willing to threaten and use military force against them. It will come to that. The only choice is before, or after, a nuclear event.

      • People do tend to see what they expect to see. What we have actually seen is that limpet mines were used in the attack. We also saw Iranians removing a limpet mine. Yes that could have been an effort to remove evidence of an Iranian attack, or they could have just been hoping to keep another mine from going off (less likely in all probability). Even if the acts were done by Iranians, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are crazy enough and independent enough to have done this without the sanction of the central government.

        This is likely to continue and if so we should start learning more.

  2. The tanker company has stressed that the crew has stated that the ship was hit by a “flying object”.
    And, the ship was loaded with methanol, not crude oil.

  3. I don’t understand why this is an issue for the United States to militarily respond to..if companies are going to go with a flag of convienence for their ships, then they should rely on that nations military to respond.

    My understanding is the tanker was flagged in Panama, thus it is an attack on their nation and not the United States.

    I also welcome Iran to close the Straits of Hormuz. If the United States is now a net energy exporter, it will be other nations that depend on trade from the Persian Gulf countries. It should be more of their concern rather than ours.

    • Looking at the video of how difficult a time the Iranians were having removing the undetonated mine, I’d say they have found a mechanism to attack limpet mines while underway.

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