On Wednesday June 19th the US revealed the evidence that it said provided stronger proof that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was the implementer of the June 13th attacks on tankers Front Altair (an Aframax) and Kokuka Courageous (a Handysize). The US displayed limpet mine fragments it said came from a damaged oil tanker, noting that the ordnance looked Iranian in origin.
The US Navy made the reveal in the UAE port of Fujairah In the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, It also displayed a magnet that it said its personnel extracted from one of the oil tankers.
The US military had already released images which it said showed Iranian Revolutionary Guards removing an unexploded mine from Kokuka Courageous. Although this was good enough for the UK government (but not the opposition), France and Germany said that the evidence was not proof. Sean Kido, commanding officer of an explosive ordnance dive and salvage task group in the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), told reporters that “the limpet mine that was used in the attack is distinguishable and also strikingly bearing a resemblance to Iranian mines that have already been publicly displayed in Iranian military parades,” Small fragments said to have been removed from the Kokuka Courageous were on display alongside a magnet purportedly left by a Revolutionary Guard squad.
The Japanese company that owns the Kokuka Courageous had said its ship was damaged by two “flying objects,” but NAVCENT has dismissed this account.
“The damage at the blast hole is consistent with a limpet mine attack, it is not consistent with an external flying object striking the ship,” Kido said, adding that nail holes visible in the hull indicated how the mine was attached to the ship.
Kido also said NAVCENT had collected biometric information including fingerprints from the ship’s hull that would help in crafting a criminal case against the assailants.
The location of the mine above the ship’s waterline indicated the intention was not to sink the vessel, he said.
Two Western security sources told Reuters that the attacks seemed calibrated to inflict limited damage and avoid injury, thus demonstrating that Iran could bring chaos to the region if it so desired.