TOKYO, JAPAN — A Japanese tanker owner is disputing U.S. reports about an attack that occurred on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman that was blamed on Iranian naval forces.
According to the ship operator as quoted in a report from The Independent, “flying objects” that may have been bullets were the cause of damage to the ship, and not mines used by Iranian forces as the U.S. has suggested. The story was also picked up by The Washington Post, The New York Times and other major news outlets.
Yutaka Katada, the chief executive of the Japanese company operating the ship called Kokuka Courageous, said the damage could not have been caused by mines or torpedoes that are shot underwater, since the damage was reportedly above the ship’s waterline.
“It seems that something flew towards them. That created the hole, is the report I’ve received,” Katada said at a press conference on Thursday. He also described reports of a mine attack as “false” according to several outlets who attended the press conference.
“It seems that something flew towards them. That created the hole, is the report I’ve received,” Katada added.
The attack was one of two perpetrated in the Straits of Hormuz on Thursday.
President Trump’s administration, meanwhile, has insisted the attacks were carried out by Iran, which has denied any involvement in the two incidents.
Shortly after, the U.S. released video it said showed Iranian Revolutionary Guard officials removing what was likely an unexploded sea mine from the ship.
The Revolutionary Guard has been classified as a terror group in recent months by Trump.
According to The Independent, Katada’s ship and another vessel operated by Norwegian sailors were both ablaze for hours in the Gulf on Thursday. The owners of the other vessel, the Front Altair, have not yet released an explanation of what caused the damage.
The Kokuka Courageous was abandoned by all 21 members of the crew, shortly after sailors reported seeing the “flying objects” from the vessel, Katada said.
The video can be seen below: