Oil Tankers Attacked Near Entrance To Persian Gulf, Escalating Tensions

Expanding on events that have been going on for months, two oil tankers were attacked today near the entrance to the Persian Gulf

In what could be a disturbing development in an already dangerous part of the world, two oil tankers bound for Japan were attacked in the Gulf of Oman just outside the strategically crucial Strait of Hormuz at the southern end of the Persian Gulf:

LONDON — Apparent attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday forced their crews to abandon ship and left one vessel ablaze, a month after four tankers were damaged in the same area, raising alarms about the security of a vital passageway for much of the world’s petroleum.

The early morning incidents, which two shipping companies involved and the White House described as attacks, elevated tensions in a region already unsettled by the escalating conflict between the United States and some of its allies, and Iran.

Frictions have become so intense that other nations have pleaded with all sides to stay calm rather than provoke an all-out war. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, who was visiting Iran and trying to bridge the gap between Iran and the United States, warned of the risk of stumbling into military conflict.

Last month, Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, said, “We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended on either side.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the House press secretary, said Thursday: “The president has been briefed on the attack on ships in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. government is providing assistance and will continue to assess the situation.”

It was not immediately clear how the most recent incidents unfolded or who was involved, just as the circumstances of last month’s attacks remain murky. The two ships that were struck on Thursday appeared to have been more seriously damaged than those hit in May.

Iranian officials have denied any involvement in attacks on tankers. But in late May, John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, that Iran was “almost certainly” responsible for the earlier attacks, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed, saying that they were “efforts by the Iranians to raise the price of crude oil.”

Officials of other countries have been more cautious about publicly assigning blame. The United Arab Emirates described the attacks as state-sponsored, but did not specify a state.

Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., both American allies, have long been at odds with Iran, and are backing opposing sides in the civil war in Yemen. But the sharpest recent changes have been in the United States-Iran relationship.

Mr. Trump has repudiated the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program, and he recently moved to cut off Iran’s remaining oil exports and sent additional military forces to the region. In response, Iran recently threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, the crucial access to the Persian Gulf, and has said it may reduce its compliance with parts of the nuclear pact.

The Houthi faction in Yemen, backed by Iran, has launched attacks recently on targets in Saudi Arabia, including oil pipelines, fueling fears of a wider conflict.

(…)

One of the ships disabled on Thursday, the Front Altair, owned by the Norwegian shipping company Frontline, was burning and its crew had evacuated the vessel, according to a shipping industry official who was not authorized to speak for the record. CPC Corporation, the Taiwan oil company that had chartered the ship to carry naphtha, a petroleum product, confirmed that it had been attacked, and a company official told Reuters that a torpedo was suspected.

The Norwegian newspaper VG quoted a Frontline spokesman as saying that its ship was on fire and that all 23 crew members had been rescued. Maritime tracking websites say the Front Altair, registered in the Marshall Islands, had left the Emirati port of Ruwais, headed to Kaohsiung, in Taiwan.

The other tanker, the Panamanian-flagged Kokuka Courageous, was carrying methanol, and the Iranian state news media reported that it, too, was on fire. It was reportedly headed from the Saudi port of Al Jubail to Singapore. Both the ship’s owner and its operator said that all 21 crew members had abandoned ship and were later rescued by a nearby vessel.

“We received a report that our ship was attacked,” Yutaka Katada, the president of the ship’s operator, Kokuka Sangyo, said at a news conference. The crew, all Filipinos, “kept trying to avoid the attacks, but again received an attack three hours later. So crew members left the ship by lifeboats.”

The tanker’s owner, Bernhard Shulte, said in a statement that it had sustained damage to the hull on the starboard side and that one crew member had been slightly injured. The ship ” is not in any danger of sinking,” the company said. “The cargo of methanol is intact.”

Iran’s state news media said the two tankers had been hit by explosions, and confirmed the rescue of 44 mariners. The news channel IRINN said a rescue team from the southern Iranian province of Horozgan had picked up the crew of the ship carrying the Panamanian flag.

Japan’s Trade Ministry said both ships were carrying “Japan-related cargo.”

The potential for a situation like this to spin out of control cannot be underestimated. A significant portion of the world’s crude oil supply, and nearly all of the oil from oil-producing nations that border the Persian Gulf pass through the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman. Any disruption in that flow of oil would have a significant impact on world oil markets as well as increase tensions in the area. This is why one of the primary missions of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, which has a large base in Bahrain, is to ensure that the Straits remain open. In the past, this area has been a point at which American forces and Iranian forces, specifically the small navy run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, have clashed in the past in minor skirmishes that have, thankfully, not exploded into something more significant. If the area becomes even more of a flashpoint, then the potential for a confrontation that spins out of control will increase significantly.

To be honest, it’s hard to believe that the Iranian government is behind the apparent uptick in attacks on shipping in the area. For one thing, now that Iran is back in the international oil business thanks to the JCPOA it is arguably as much in their interest to keep the Strait of Hormuz and the surrounding area open to the free flow of shipping as it would be in the interest of Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E, and the United States. Additionally, it seems hard to believe that the Iranians would launch an attack on tankers that are ultimately headed to Japan, or anywhere else for that matter while hosting the Japanese Prime Minister. This leaves open the possibility, of course, that the attacks could have been conducted by rogue forces inside Iran who are opposed to the JCPOA and the opening to the West. It is also possible that the attacks are the work of forces in Yemen nominally allied with Iran that may be interested in turning the war in Yemen into a wider conflict or some other force who may have an interest in upping the tensions between Iran and the United States. Whoever is responsible, though, the fact that the attacks are continuing suggests that they are well-organized and that we may not have seen the end of them.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Iran, Middle East, National Security, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Gulf of Tonkin, anyone? Or one of our “allies” in the area trying to provoke something? If this is real, then I think we’d better be very careful because Iran will export any war to our shores. We might finally be biting off a bigger piece than we can digest.

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  2. grumpy realist says:

    I’m surprised we didn’t find a bunch of Iranian passports floating next to the ships with a big floating arrow helpfully pointing to them, just in case we missed the point.

    Well, anything necessary to let Bolton and his minions get their war on, right?

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  3. michael reynolds says:

    We have a president who lies about everything, so nothing he says can be assumed to be true, rather the opposite.

    We have a president who is childish and needy and easily manipulated, so again, we can’t believe anything he says.

    We have an Israeli Prime Minister who is a fascist wannabe and a criminal, and a leader of the KSA who is a murderer and liar, and both want us to go to war against Iran, so we have to assume that they may be behind this.

    We are effectively paralyzed, unable to respond with any certainty at all to the situation. No American soldier, sailor or airman can believe that they are defending America if this blows up – it is far more likely that they are being used as tools by Bibi Netanyahu, MBS and our illegitimate president to start an unjust war.

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  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    OT…
    The US Office of Special Counsel has notified the White House that Kellyanne Conway has violated the Hatch Act on several occasions and recommends that she be removed from Federal Service.
    I predict that the WH lol’s at this.

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  5. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: they’ll just smear the employees who pointed out the crime as angry Democrats, and keep on chugging.

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  6. Teve says:

    Wasn’t it Iran who spent years with operatives in Iraq building explosively formed projectiles that were truly evil bombs that could tear right through armor? So they’re capable of doing shit like this. But who would I believe? Unless somebody documented Rouhani telling over 9,000 lies, I would probably take Hussan Rouhani’s word over Donald Trump’s, frankly.

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  7. inhumans99 says:

    I doubt Yemen, the place that is being ground to dust by Saudi Arabia, and by extension the U.S. is responsible for this. I think it is not rocket science to figure out that the Saudis are behind this. They need to drag us into their conflict with Iran and this is arguably the best way to do so.

    The problem is that even the most rabid liberal hating MAGA wearing critter in the U.S. has seen the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq drag out forever…it makes such critter think twice before going on Fox News and saying oh yeah…lets go bomb those bastards in Iran. President Trump needs lots of these critters to be loud and proud in declaring there support for military actions against Iran and it is rather interesting that he does not have this support even from places where he received nearly 100%(!) of the vote.

    We know that the Saudis think they can drag us into this, as we have audio of them sounding like they were almost sexually excited (yeah, I am prone to a bit of hyperbole) that they tortured and cut into pieces an American citizen and the response we (and the Saudis) got from our President is all well, if Jamal Khashoggi did not want to get sawed into pieces he should not have criticized the Saudis (I know, yikes…but I am not exaggerating much, pretty much his reaction to the situation).

    The Saudis need more than us simply saying go Saudis, keep hitting Yemen hard we have your back, because well..we do not have their back, not really. Oh sure, we are all yeah….we can supply munitions, but the Saudis need us to put real skin (lots of skin, tons of actual living breathing bodies) in the game as this conflict has gone over for much longer than they anticipated.

    Support for dragging us into this conflict is real thin…plenty of Republicans will cheer in front of the cameras to bomb Iran but that is putting on a show for our President. The reality is that what, he had to veto a resolution for us to completely pull out of supporting the Yemen conflict with even just bullets and missiles, correct?

    This shows that the “support” to go to war with Iran is just not there, even among the most die-hard Republicans who would rather watch the Saudis dismember their mother in front of them vs working out a compromise deal with Nancy Pelosi.

    Mr long term mastermind thinker Mitch McConnell correctly sees this as being a disaster for the GOP because 20 years from now we will be stuck in a conflict with Iran that is quite frankly 100% avoidable at this point in time.

    It is one thing for our President to wake up and say hey this morning I feel like implementing tariffs on Mexico, and even then he had to backtrack, as that did not work out as well as he thought it would even with the most pliant Republican majority in probably the last 50 years.
    If he just woke up tomorrow and said okay we are at war with Iran I bet Congress would not freak out and say hey, that is for us to vote on, rather I could see Mitch tapping on the President’s shoulder and saying…no we are not going to war unless you want to be impeached, and I do mean pretty much literally right this second, I can line up the votes in just a few minutes so keep on kissing the ass of the Saudis and North Koreans but stop pretending you are not our puppet and lets us do the real work letting the rich get richer while you distract everyone with your inane musings on Twitter over whatever you saw on Fox news.

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  8. Kathy says:

    There’s a whole lack of specifics that make any kind of judgment possible. How were these ships attacked? explosives on board, mines, torpedoes, explosives on boats? And there are too many players involved each with their own motives.

    I’m not given to conspiracy thinking, but I wouldn’t rule out anything, even some form of cooperation between factions inside Iran and factions outside Iran.

    I will say if Dennison wants to even lob a few cruise missiles at Iran over this, he’d better have iron-clad proof or Iran’s responsibility in the matter.

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  9. drj says:

    This leaves open the possibility, of course, that the attacks could have been conducted by rogue forces inside Iran who are opposed to the JCPOA and the opening to the West.

    Practically begging the US to launch an attack your country in order to get out of a treaty that the US hates anyway, doesn’t seem to be the most rational strategy. Even for “rogue forces” this is a bit much.

    It is also possible that the attacks are the work of forces in Yemen nominally allied with Iran that may be interested in turning the war in Yemen into a wider conflict

    It is more than a thousand miles from Houthi-controlled territory to the Gulf of Oman. I can’t imagine that the Houthis (who, by the way, have no navy) have the capability to deploy a torpedo-carrying craft that far from home.

    In any case, they are not going to piss off the Iranians by attacking oil tankers in their backyard (duh).

    Realistically speaking, that pretty much leaves the Saudis or perhaps their UAE proxies as anyone with a semi-functioning brain can deduce.

    Which is also the flaw in their cunning plan: nobody is going to believe that Iran is behind these attacks. But perhaps with Bolton as the NSA it doesn’t matter.

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  10. Teve says:

    @drj:

    Which is also the flaw in their cunning plan: nobody is going to believe that Iran is behind these attacks. But perhaps with Bolton as the NSA it doesn’t matter.

    I’d like to introduce you to a fellow named Paul 😀

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  11. gVOR08 says:

    FOX, I find, is all over ‘Pompeo said it’s definitely the Iranians.’ CNN, I’m happy to see, is being a bit more skeptical,

    Thursday’s incident is significantly more blatant, but the same officials will doubtless blame Tehran again. If and when that happens, we should remember US National Security Advisor John Bolton promised to present evidence to the UN Security Council backing up those previous claims, but has yet to do so

    .
    They also report a US Navy report that there’s an unexploded limpet mine visible on one of the ships. A limpet mine is a package of explosives, usually with a time fuse, attached to a ship with magnets. Could be pretty low tech. The hard part would likely be getting past whatever security the port provides. I haven’t seen where these ships departed from.

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  12. KM says:

    To quote the MAGAts, false flag y’all! While it is definitely possible that it could be terrorists, pirates, “rogue groups” or even sanctioned black ops on Iran’s part, Occam’s Razor on this cuts deep. You have several parties openly clamoring for military actions and eager to take up any cause to get it. Earlier this year they tried with that “gash on the waterline sabotage” but it didn’t take because there were too many questions and it frankly didn’t make sense in their narrative. Why sabotage when you can outright attack, right?

    Well, now there’s “attacks” and it’s on a party that conveniently is getting pressured economically and politically by countries pushing for that action. Japan starts talking to Iran diplomatically and suddenly they get drawn into the drama. Weird timing, right? A rogue group wouldn’t have picked Japan as a 3rd party to drag in because they’re not “the West” and don’t have the kind of clout someone wanting to isolate Iran from outside influences really needs. No military action to politicize, specifically.

    Occam’s Razor instead leaves us with a bunch of petty folks trying to wag the dog but not able to get the tail moving. They’re trying to loop Japan in but it’s not gonna work out the way they think.

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  13. Slugger says:

    Oil prices are not doing very much today; running at $50-52 per barrel which is certainly in the range as this past year which has led the Sauds to cut production in an effort to keep the price up this spring. For comparison, the price exceeded $100 in 2012 which was blamed on Iran threatening the straits of Hormuz. Puzzling.

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  14. gVOR08 says:

    Upon being informed of the attack, President Trump said of the attackers, “They’re late, don’t pay them.”

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  15. Kathy says:

    What makes the matter worse is one cannot trust or believe any of the principals involved in this mess. Not the Iranians, not the Saudis, not the Emiratis, not the Americans, and not the Houthis (if they’re even close to being involved). The Israelis have been quiet, but I wouldn’t believe Netanyahu.

    Some of the tankers belong to countries with no direct involvement on the fight. Those might prove trustworthy. I’d add if there’s no input from them if and when someone shows any evidence, then I’d be even more inclined to doubt any claims made.

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  16. Teve says:

    Justin Halpern
    @justin_halpern
    ·
    35m
    My dad was on the U.S.S Maddox, the boat that was “attacked” that started the Vietnam war. He said no one could understand why they were in the Tonkin gulf until one officer at breakfast goes “they sent us here to get blown up so they can start a war they really want to start.”

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  17. Matt says:

    I find it extremely hard to believe that a torpedo did that. Torpedoes do catastrophic levels of damage (ditto for sea mines). The pictures I’ve seen including the one at the top show a very small localized area of damage with fire. At most it kind of resembles the damage that the US Cole sustained when a suicide bomb on a small boat exploded next to it. A relatively small explosion that could be accomplished with a small amount of high explosive material.

    EDIT : A limpet mine is totally possible though as it is a small amount of explosives.

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  18. inhumans99 says:

    @gVOR08:

    I LOLed but you are onto something. I decided to check out Politico and it turns out that if someone was trying to gin up an event to shock Americans and get us all on Pompeos’ and President Trumps’ side when they say Iran did this, but I have no proof, did I mention that Iran did this…trust us, when have the President and I tried to mislead you in the past (snicker), that they failed spectacularly.

    There are multiple stories at Politico about the President’s admission to loving to collaborate with hostile foreign powers and his remarks to walk back some of what he said in the interview, but to my eyes only one about the tanker attacks, and even that ends with an admission that some in Congress see this as similar to the build up of the Iraq war.

    This tells me that President Trump and his supporters (in this case his foreign supporters such as the governments of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Russia) stepped on their own message to get us revved up about Iran’s supposed shenanigans in the Strait Of Hormuz.

    The folks behind the attack should not be paid not because they were late but because they were too early! They needed to wait a few more days for the President’s verbal gaffe to leave the news cycle, so maybe next Wednesday or Thursday is when the attack was supposed to happen and they accidentally blew their load early (something lost in translation, they thought the message said execute the operation now when there was supposed to be a delay and clear signal when the coast is clear to proceed)?

    Anytime the President gives an interview, it should be assumed that he will say something controversial and you need to build in time to let that blow over. Rookie mistake not to take that into account.

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  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    he’d better have iron-clad proof or Iran’s responsibility in the matter.

    Or what? The Senate is going to vote to convict? The ICJ is going to send officers over to arrest him? Republicans are going to vote Democratic? What’s going to happen if he attacks and is wrong? (Hint: A clue might be found in Iraq or Afghanistan.)

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  20. Gustopher says:

    I would caution people to avoid conspiracy theories, but this really doesn’t make sense for the Iranians to do it. For give or take any Iranian.

    If the Shah’s family is still around, and are hoping to be restored to power after an American invasion, then maybe them. But no one else.

    If I were in the Iranian government, I would be trying desperately to buy nuclear weapons from North Korea or Pakistan. Whole weapons, which they can test and then claim to be a nuclear power. That’s the lesson of Iraq and North Korea — get nuclear weapons fast.

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  21. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Or what?

    Good question.

    But, do you see even his most ardent supporters going all gung-ho for war over a few foreign-owned tankers going to Europe or Asia? As excuses for war go, this is not even lame.

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  22. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: I read this morning that they have accelerated production of enriched uranium.

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  23. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: That’s a mistake for them. It means we have to act NOW!

    Blow up a few Pakistani nuclear weapons, claiming they are Iranian, and then it’s too late to act.

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  24. MarkedMan says:

    My money is on Israel being behind this.

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  25. Ken_L says:

    Cui bono? In no particular order, they include:
    – Islamic extremists determined to keep America bleeding in the region until it gives up and goes home
    – Saudi Arabia and its allies who want America to crush Iran’s military power
    – Israel for the same reason
    – Rogue Iranian officials insane enough to believe they will prevail in a war with the US
    – Rogue American officials insane enough to believe Iranians will rise up and overthrow the regime if only it’s bombed enough

    Conspicuously absent from the list is the Iranian government. So that’s who the US will probably blame.

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  26. michael reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    My money’s on MBS. He’s a brazen murderer who funnels money to Trump and gets a pass for anything he does. He knows Trump can’t/won’t call him on it, even if Trump hasn’t signed off in advance. And I suspect Trump is largely in the dark. He’s pitifully easy to manipulate, and Bolton and Pompeo are hard for regime change in Iran.

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  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: If Bolton and Pompeo can convince him that it’s the macho thing to do, he’ll be able to sell it to the MAGAots. They’re not the sharpest little spoons in the silverware drawer, you know.

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  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Matt: I have read the word ‘torpedo’ used when speaking of mines. It seems to be interchangeable among certain pundits and journalists.

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  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher:

    I would caution people to avoid conspiracy theories,

    It is really hard to avoid conspiracy theories when speculating about who is behind a conspiracy to start up another shooting war in the ME by damaging oil tankers.

    Iran? Maybe.
    Saudi Arabia? Maybe.
    Israel? Maybe.
    Rogue actors in any one of the above? Maybe.
    Any # of the above working in concert with some of the others? Maybe.

    The only thing that is certain is that there is a conspiracy.

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  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    We keep assuming the motivation is to start a US/Iran shooting match, but the real reason could be far more prosaic: Simple greed. Maybe who ever is behind this merely wants the price of oil to go up?

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  31. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I seem to recall things written in Revolutionary War and Civil War eras that refer to “torpedos” so I suspect it must have had a different meaning. [Google, Google, Google]:

    torpedo (sense 1 of the noun) dates from the late 18th century and first described a timed explosive device for detonation under water.

    According to the same source the original source was Latin derived from “numb” or “numbness” which then became attached to the aftereffects of the shock from something like an electric eel or anemone and the rest is left as an exercise for the reader.

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  32. KM says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    For the same reason they call everything gun-shaped a AR-15 – it evokes the imagery they want. “Mine” gives the impression of something underground or foot you need to step on to trigger or else it’s relatively harmless; “torpedo” gives the impression of a directional stealth attack underwater from a distance. You don’t trigger a torpedo and you don’t hurl a mine. One is intentional with a deliberate target, one is a trap even the unwary or innocent can trigger.

    What they are doing is subtly pushing the notion this was an active attack instead of a passive one. If it was a “mine”, there’s a chance of it being accidental – after all, if it was just there and you floated over it, was it an attack? Whereas a “torpedo” evokes someone intentionally sending that device against that ship on purpose, no chance of accident.

    Words matter – especially when you’re going for a specific outcome. “Mine” just doesn’t have the same bellicose tone as “torpedo”

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  33. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I think one of the earliest submarines, used in the US Civil War, carried an explosive with a contact fuse on a long pole projecting from its nose. I don’t recall if it was ever used, or if it survived being used. The explosive shell at the end of the pole was called a torpedo.

    I believe the same term was used for mines with a contact fuse as well. There’s a quotation from around that time that goes “damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!”

    According to Wikipedia, it’s a paraphrasing of Farragut at Mobile Bay:

    On August 5, 1864, Farragut won a great victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Mobile, Alabama, was then the Confederacy’s last major open port on the Gulf of Mexico. The bay was heavily mined (tethered naval mines were then known as “torpedoes”).[26] Farragut ordered his fleet to charge the bay. When the monitor USS Tecumseh struck a mine and sank, the others began to pull back.

    From his high perch, where he was lashed to the rigging of his flagship, USS Hartford, Farragut could see the ships pulling back. “What’s the trouble?” he shouted through a trumpet to USS Brooklyn. “Torpedoes”, was the shouted reply. “Damn the torpedoes.”, said Farragut, “Four bells, Captain Drayton, go ahead. Jouett, full speed.”[27][28] The bulk of the fleet succeeded in entering the bay. Farragut triumphed over the opposition of heavy batteries in Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines to defeat the squadron of Admiral Franklin Buchanan.

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  34. KM says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    It is really hard to avoid conspiracy theories when speculating about who is behind a conspiracy to start up another shooting war in the ME by damaging oil tankers.

    Indeed. A conspiracy theory in popular jargon is an unfounded wild explanation via crazy logic of how something is actually a horrible and harmful thing; a conspiracy is a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful. Terrorists are part of conspiracies but we like to use the word terrorist instead because it’s more appropriate to their actions and motives.

    *Somebody’s* got a plan we don’t know about and are doing harmful things to those tankers as part of it. They are engage in a conspiracy by definition. Again, words matter when you’re going for a specific outcome. Wild speculation is one thing but dismissing the very real possibly that someone on our side is setting the Iranian government up as a conspiracy theory is being willfully blind. The fact that our government isn’t even entertaining the notion that it might be terrorists or rogue elements but rather directly points fingers at the Iranian government is suspect. This part of the world you can’t rule out terrorism this early. That should have been Option #1 and yet…. it’s not.

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  35. Teve says:

    Pants Consultant

    @KrangTNelson
    Following Following @KrangTNelson
    More
    the cia has publicly tripped over their own balls on like 4 or 5 false flag attempts in the past calendar year and they still think ppl will believe them if they just try one more time. bless their hearts

    6:38 AM – 14 Jun 2019

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  36. Moosebreath says:

    I found this thread from the Director of the Iran Project at The Crisis Group interesting (h/t Daniel Larison). The first entry was:

    “@SecPompeo’s little performance aimed at accusing Iran for this morning’s tanker attacks was stunning in one sense: how many inaccuracies can one jampack into a 4 min speech? Here is a short list:”

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  37. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Just up the shore from Fort Morgan, which is a fascinating place to visit just a few miles from the resort town of Gulf Shores, are the remains of a bunker with a sign explaining that troops there used telegraph keys to electrically trigger the “torpedoes”, which were big glass jugs filled with gunpowder anchored under the surface.

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  38. JohnMcC says:

    The real history parallel here is to the Spanish American War. The Spanish had absolutely zero incentive to attack the battlecruiser Maine. But when she blew up the yellow press brought us a ‘splendid little war’.

    Maybe someone in the WH has decided to roll the dice; it worked just fine in ’98.

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  39. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    I think one of the earliest submarines, used in the US Civil War, carried an explosive with a contact fuse on a long pole projecting from its nose. I don’t recall if it was ever used, or if it survived being used.

    I think in the past year they have dredged up the sub and discovered that when they set off the “torpedo” the shock wave appears to have killed the entire crew of the sub. They found all their remains still at their stations.

    [Or maybe not. According to this CNN story, there is debate about whether it was the blast that killed them, or whether there was some other reason they remained at their stations until too late.]

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  40. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:
    @MarkedMan:

    You learn all kinds of things in this blog’s comments section 🙂

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  41. Moosebreath says:

    Meanwhile, CBS is quoting the owner of the Japanese ship which was hit as saying they they were hit by flying objects, not mines or torpedoes.

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  42. KM says:

    @Moosebreath:
    Pfft, the Japanese. Why should we be listening to them? I mean, sure they were the ones actually there at the time but come on! They haven’t accused the Iranians yet when it was *clearly* them and their damn torpedo-mine-sharknados! Pompeo already said so! Besides their PM was in the capital that day trying to talk peace so it’s totes obvi that the Iranians decided to go blow up their ships because that’s a great negotiation strategy.

    Witnesses, amrite? They can’t keep the official story straight to save their lives!!

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  43. dazedandconfused says:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/japanese-ship-owner-contradicts-us-account-of-how-tanker-was-attacked/2019/06/14/7ea347d0-8eba-11e9-b6f4-033356502dce_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.fd3ffca4a2d8

    Crew and vessel owners already contradicting Pompeo on the matter, say they were hit by something flying, like a shell.

    Someone dumb enough to conduct a hit and expect to get away with it by means of a laughably implausible cover-up story?

    https://i2.wp.com/gulfhouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/MbS_KSA.png?fit=1228%2C719&ssl=1

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  44. Matt says:

    Okay so the navy has video of the “Iranian’s” removing an explosive from one of the ships but they (the US Navy) couldn’t be bothered to interdict the boat or even follow it….

    So now they are claiming that Iranian boats are interfering with tugs and US Navy ships. Of course there is no video of this happening.

    Awfully odd that…

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  45. Gustopher says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Meanwhile, CBS is quoting the owner of the Japanese ship which was hit as saying they they were hit by flying objects, not mines or torpedoes.

    Have they identified these flying objects? Could it be aliens?

    Now, if we hear a Japanese man say “aliens” with the r/l issue, are we sure he said “aliens,” and that we didn’t just mishear him saying “Iranians”?

    Again, I would be wary of conspiracy theories, but nothing about this makes sense, and the US government is not showing any evidence, so…

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  46. Moosebreath says:

    @Gustopher:

    “Have they identified these flying objects? Could it be aliens?”

    No, they are Unidentified Flying Objects.

    More seriously, CNN is reporting that there were drones in the area earlier that day, and Iran fired missiles at them:

    “In the hours before the attack on the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, the Iranians spotted a US drone flying overhead and launched a surface-to-air missile at the unmanned aircraft, a US official told CNN.
    The missile missed the drone and fell into the water, the official said. “

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  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Admiral Farragut. as my Farragut descendant room mate liked to tell me.

    A decade or 2 ago, I thought that usage had long since passed, but no.

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