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June 14, 2019

US Releases Video of Iranian Boat Removing Unexploded Mine -- Evidence, That Is -- From Burning Tanker
Report: Iran Fast-Boats Preventing Tugs From Recovering Damaged Tanker

Rumors of war.

The United States has blamed Iran for an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, releasing video footage that it claims shows an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the vessels' hulls.

...

In the video, a smaller boat is shown coming up to the side of the Japanese-owned tanker. An individual stands up on the bow of the boat and can be seen removing an object from the tanker's hull. The US says that object is likely an unexploded mine.

"Iran did do it, and you know they did it because you saw the boat," President Donald Trump said during a phone interview on Fox and Friends Friday morning, referring to the video.

A senior diplomatic source of a US ally told CNN Friday, "It is a virtual certainty Iran was behind this latest attack. The video now nails it."

The president of the Japanese shipping company whose tanker was attacked, and then had the object removed from it, is claiming, for some reason, that the ship wasn't attacked, and that the attacker wouldn't be Iran. His evidence for this is that the object is above "the naval line," which I take to be a mistranslation of "the water line."

Well, it is above the water line, true. But... thing is, though I don't know much about ships, I can imagine a ship losing its heavy cargo of oil (or chemicals) and then rising higher above the water line than it started.

I can imagine other scenarios to get the mine above the water line, too -- a ship listing badly to one side, for example, after the initial explosion.

Back and Forth: Marcus T says the inner hull wasn't breached, so that there wouldn't be any loss of liquid cargo. If that's true, that follows.

However, flounder points this out:

Traditionally, you would put limpet mines below the waterline, to sink the vessel, as it stood motionless in a harbor. That would be by frog men. What you do with a moving boat I suppose is get it anywhere you can on the hull from another moving craft, just the reverse as they removed it. Japan's claim is a non-sequitur.

That also makes sense to me.

Sure, if you cruised by on a boat to attach a mine, you'd probably want it as close to the waterline as you could manage, but this is would be a fast operation made in choppy waters against a ship that's also moving, so maybe this was the best they could do with one (dangerous) "kiss" against the side of a much bigger ship.

Oh, and another possibility: With the ship damaged, the crew might have dumped ballast (heavy material that fills the lowest part of the ship to maintain stability, keeping it bottom side down and top side up) out of the ship to raise the waterline. Which seems like it would be a standard thing to do in case of a hull breach. Though, really, I'm entirely speculating.

I don't know boats. /doctorevil

Update: Well, Iran sure is acting like they're responsible for the attacks and attempting to block recovery of the evidence -- even when the evidence is an entire tanker.

Iranian military fast-boats in the Gulf of Oman are preventing two privately owned tug boats from towing away an oil tanker damaged in attacks on Thursday, a U.S. official said on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. official did not say how the United States knew of the reported standoff between the Iranian fast-boats and the tug boats, which were trying to tie up and tow away the Norwegian-owned Front Altair.

Thanks for that last update to Josephstan.

By the way, while the unexploded mine was about eight feet above the waterline (this is a guess, it's hard to judge scale), there's another picture of a hole in the hull, presumably from a mine that did explode, which is just a foot or two above the waterline.


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posted by Ace of Spades at 02:33 PM

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