Japanese tanker owner claims US lies and denies ship struck mine
Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo, told reporters on Friday that sailors on board the ill-fated oil tanker observed “flying objects” just before the incident in which the ship caught fire and was badly damaged.
The giant vessel was hit twice, first near the engine room and then on its starboard side.
He suggested that those flying objects could have been bullets, and called reports of striking a mine “false.” Both points at which the ship was damaged were above her waterline, which couldn’t be so if it had struck an underwater mine.
The tanker was carrying petroleum products to Singapore and Thailand when it was attacked while sailing through the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.
All 21 crew members abandoned the ship and were reportedly rescued by an Iranian vessel.
While many details of the incident are still shrouded in mystery, the US was quick to blame Iran. ■