Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly blamed Iran for the “blatant assault” on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman Thursday.
“In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Pompeo said the U.S. had come to the conclusion based on intelligence, the type of weapons used and the sophistication of the assaults,” reports Fox News. “He charged that Iran is working to disrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz and are a deliberate part of a campaign to escalate tension.”
“His comments came shortly after a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News that it saw an unexploded mine attached to the hull of the Panama-listed, Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous ship, one of the two ships attacked. It is the same type of mine used to damage four oil tankers last month in the same area – an attack senior Pentagon officials blamed on Iran,” adds the report.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Original report from earlier today:
A suspected torpedo attack severely damaged two oil-tankers in the Gulf of Oman Thursday; prompting the US Navy’s Fifth fleet to evacuate the crew.
“Two oil tankers were damaged in a suspected attack off the Gulf of Oman early Thursday, prompting the rescue of dozens of crew members,” reports Fox News. “The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet told Reuters it was assisting two tankers in the Gulf of Oman after receiving two distress calls. Details of the incident were unclear, but one of the operators made an unconfirmed report that a torpedo had hit its ship.”
“We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7:00 a.m.,” Joshua Frey of the Fifth Fleet said.
“International Tanker Management, which operates the MT Front Altair said an explosion had caused a fire onboard. The firm told the Associated Press the incident is still being investigated and it was unclear what caused the explosion. Its 23 crew members were evacuated by the nearby South Korean-based Hyundai Dubai Vessel and are now safe, the firm said,” adds Fox.
“Following two attacks on Member vessels this morning, I am extremely worried about the safety of our crews going through the Strait of Hormuz,” Paolo d’Amico, chairman of INTERTANKO, said in a statement.