Navy: Limpet Mine Used in Attack was Similar to Iranian Munition

Magnet from what appears to be an unexploded limpet mine on the hull of the Kokuka Courageous (US CENTCOM)

Published Jun 19, 2019 7:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, the U.S. Navy released new information to back up the American claim that Iran was responsible for the recent attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The unexploded limpet mine that Iranian forces allegedly removed from one of the vessels, the Kokuka Courageous, bears a "striking" resemblance to mines "publicly displayed in Iranian military parades," according to Cmdr. Sean Kido, the leader of a diving and salvage unit at Central Command. 

The U.S. Navy is not in possession of the mine itself, but it does have surveillance footage and photos of what appears to be a mine attached to the vessel's hull. It has also recovered pieces of the munition that were left behind when it was allegedly removed by Iranian forces. These include a magnet that was stuck to the vessel's hull, along with a fragment of what appears to be a mine's outer casing. The Navy says that it has also lifted "biometric information" from the hull's surface. 

Cmdr. Kido disagreed with recent statements made by the Courageous' owner, Japanese firm Kokuka Sangyo, which claims that the vessel was struck by a flying object. “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,” Cmrd. Kido told Reuters. 

Iran denies involvement in the attacks, and some - especially in the EU - have called for an independent UN investigation to verify U.S. claims. "It's very important to know the truth and it's very important that responsibilities are clarified. Obviously that can only be done if there is an independent entity that verifies those facts," said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last Friday. 

At a closed meeting of EU foreign ministers Monday, one top official recalled the Bush administration's misleading claims about weapons of mass destruction prior to the invasion of Iraq, and suggested that skepticism was in order this time around. “The dynamics of the two attacks are not clear, and the video that the U.S. said demonstrated Iran’s role was also not clear,” another diplomat from a Western nation told Reuters Wednesday.