It was an Iranian Sub which Struck the Japanese Supertanker in Hormuz http://warsclerotic.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/iranian-us-tit-for-tat-covered-up/
A dense veil of secrecy continues to cloud the attack of Wednesday, July 28 on the Japanese M.STAR supertanker near the Straits of Hormuz.
At 5:30 a.m., several things happened on the Mitsui O.S.K.-owned tanker as it turned toward Japan, its holds full of 270,000 tons of crude, through the territorial waters of Oman in the strategic straits.
The huge vessel was rocked by a powerful shock. A big fire broke out on its port side and, when the flames licked the top deck, the lifeboats tethered there disintegrated, sending a shower of burning fragments into the sea. The crews’ mess hall was completely destroyed as were some of the sailors’ cabins.
From that moment, the accounts of what had happened aboard the M.STAR became muddled, contradictory and enigmatic. A cover-up had clearly gone into action, managed by US officials and the US Fifth Fleet command in Bahrain, which is responsible for security in a broad region encompassing the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea – up to the fringes of the Indian Ocean.
First, it was claimed that the tanker had been struck by a mammoth freak wave, even though nothing of the kind had been seen by crew members standing on the deck. One or more crewman had in fact noticed a large flash approaching the vessel from the distance.
Next, the Omani coast guard suggested the ship had been roiled by a mild earthquake around Bandar-Abbas on the Iranian shore of the Strait of Hormuz. This notion was seconded by a spokesperson of the Iranian Seismological Institute who cited its magnitude as being precisely 3.4 on the Richter scale – until America’s national seismological institute debunked the theory. The last earthquake in this region had occurred Saturday, July 24, said its spokesman, and there had been no tremors since.
US, Iranian accounts converge – up to a point
That afternoon, however, the Japanese owners of the supertanker came forward with a statement asserting that it had been damaged in an explosion “from a suspected attack from the outside.” There is nothing that can explode in that part of the vessel, they said, insisting the explosion was caused by something from outside the tanker.
Wednesday night, American and Iranian officials sang the same tune – up to a point. They agreed the Japanese supertanker had been damaged by an explosion as the result of an attack from an unknown source.
But then their accounts diverged.
The US Navy spokesman added nothing further, whereas the Iranian spokesperson said the fire which was caused by an explosion on the deck was contained “with the help of the crew and regional forces.”
The way the episode was treated indicated to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources that the US Navy and Washington had been caught unawares and were embarrassed by an attack on a oil supertanker in this busy shipping lane – through which about 40 percent of the world’s oil supply passes every day and which ought to have been the most thoroughly-secured maritime route in the world.
Yet the next day, Thursday, July 29, a US Fifth Fleet spokesman said that there were no US Navy or coalition vessels anywhere near the supertanker when it was hit: “No, there were none close to the ship… none of our vessels were involved,” he said.
The US cover-up disguised ignorance, the Iranian – guilt
But what the Iranian statement revealed was that it had maintained a naval presence in the immediate vicinity of the damaged vessel and kept it under close scrutiny from the moment it was hit until it reached the United Arab Emirates dockyards at Fujairah early Wednesday evening.
Unlike the US and NATO fleets, the Iranians were on hand for manipulating the accounts of the incident, first spreading disinformation about a non-existent earthquake, then describing events aboard the M.STAR which could only have been seen from close up.
According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence and Iranian sources, Tehran issued the vivid account of a concerned onlooker to conceal the fact that an Iranian Revolutionary Guards-IRGC Tarig-type submarine was responsible for the attack on the Japanese tanker and had rammed its portside hull to create the effect of an explosion.
A second Iranian sub, a Yunis, hovering nearby in case of trouble and as mission back-up, fired a dummy missile or shell to engender the flash effect witnessed by the ship’s crew.
Knowledge of this attack was not meant for general consumption. It was designed by Tehran as a warning-off message to Washington against US or NATO fleets venturing to intercept Iranian ships in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden or Gulf of Oman and search them for goods prohibited by UN sanctions.
Washington warned, Iranian submariners rewarded
Iran pulled its punches for the Japanese supertanker to convey a warning that next time, a loaded oil supertanker would not just be dented, but sunk and the Strait of Hormuz blocked to choke the most important oil transit sea lane in the world DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Iranian sources report.
Tuesday, August 3, the Commander of the Iranian Army, Maj. Gen. Ataollha Salehi, on a visit to Bandar Abbas, stressed that Iran would not tolerate any inspections of its ships. “There is no difference between Somali pirates and US pirates for Iran,” he said.
He did not reveal that he was at Bandar Abbas, home base of the IRGC’s navy, to shake the hands of the two Iranian submarine crew members who took part in the operation against the Japanese supertanker. They were awarded medals together with a one-thousand dollar handout for each crewman, a gift from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
More ominously, he inspected the construction of submarines of the four homemade types, Al-Gadir, Noah, Yunis and Tarig, which he said would be handed to the Naval Forces in the next ten days “for exploitation.”
If this was the first round of an Iranian-US showdown in the Persian Gulf, Tehran came out on top, an outcome which, despite the attempted cover-ups, was not lost on the Persian Gulf Arab emirates which are keeping a worried watch on US military moves.
To deprive Tehran of the last word, the Obama administration, which is up to its ears in the perplexities of Afghanistan and Iraq (see next item), is reported by our sources to have sent unmanned aerial craft to bomb the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr on Sunday, Aug. 1.
Tehran will not let anything get in the way of its response.