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Timeline and details: June 13 Gulf of Oman tanker "attack"

Updated: Jun 18, 2019

On June 13 a major incident involving two oil tankers took place in the Gulf of Oman off the Iranian port of Jask (بندر جاسک). This port also serves as an Iranian naval base and a center for drones and submarines. The two ships that were allegedly targeted were within 20 miles of Jask, according to sites that track ships. Jask naval base has submarines, drones and anti-ship missiles have been tested near the site. Major Iranian naval operations took place in this area in February.

June 10 Ships begin journey

The Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous leaves the Saudi port of Al Jubail on June 10 toward Singapore.

The MT Front Altair, a Marshall Islands-flagged crude oil tanker leaves the UAE port of Ruwais on Tuesday June 10 heading to the Taiwanese port of Kaohsiung. It is carrying 75,000 tonnes of Naphtha.

June 13

All times in local time in Gulf of Oman.

Location of events

The two vessels were in international waters in the Gulf of Oman approximately 10 nautical miles apart at the time of the distress calls. USS Bainbridge was approximately 40 nautical miles away from the Front Altair at the time of the attack, and immediately began closing the distance," according to CENTCOM. The Front Altair was near the Kokuka Courageous until it was struck and the Kokuka continued on.

6:12 am The first distress call from Front Altair

Commander Joshua Frey of the US Fifth Fleet said that the US heard two separate distress calls. The first was at 6:12am.

6:20 US Reaper drone comes under attack by surface to air missile

"Prior to taking fire, the American MQ-9 drone observed Iranian vessels closing in on the tankers, the official added, though the source did not say whether the unmanned aircraft saw the boats conducting an actual attack," CNN writes.

"The official said the first distress call from the MV Altair tanker, a Marshall Islands-flagged but Norwegian-owned crude oil tanker, went out at 6:12am local time. The unmanned MQ9 Reaper drone arrived 8 minutes later," Fox News says.

6:45 missile fired from Iran at drone

"Then at 6:45am local time, a missile was fired at the drone, but missed. The U.S. military said that it was a modified SA-7 fired from Iran’s mainland. It was fired on after the drone arrived on station to assist the Norwegian tanker."

7:00 am distress call from Kokuka Courageous

US Navy hears second distress call, perhaps from the second ship that is harmed.

8:00 am (approx) Oman reports

In Oman locals report the explosions.

8:20 am Pakistan reports

Sources in Pakistan say they have heard about explosions, speak to Iranian Tasnim News. Tasnim: "No group has yet claimed responsibility for this."

8:30 Iran's Al-Alam reports the incident

Iran's Al-Alam reports the incident based on the Oman sources. Tasnim and Al-Mayadeen follow, quoting Pakistani sources as well.

6:00-9:00 am

Kakuka Courageous later reports that it was attacked twice in three hours before it was evacuated.

9:00am AP reports UK Maritime "caution"

Associate Press receives a report from United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations urging "extreme caution". This office, in Dubai, is staffed by UK naval reserves and deals issues relating to the Persian Gulf and and Gulf of Oman. “UK and its partners are currently investigating,” the group said.

8:00-10:00 tankers are evacuated

"Two tankers were evacuated following an unspecified incident." Al-Jazeera: 21 crew of the vessel Kokuka Courageous abandoned ship.

8:09 US observes IRGC boats near Front Altair

CENTCOM "U.S. aircraft observed an IRGC Hendijan class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) in the vicinity of the Front Altair."

9:12 US aircraft observes IRGC near Front Altair

CENTCOM "U.S. aircraft observes the FAC/FIAC pull a raft from the M/T Altair from the water."

9:26 Hyundai Dubai which is assisting Front Altair turns crew over to Iran

CENTCOM "Iranians requested that the motor vessel Hyundai Dubai, which had rescued the sailors from the M/T Altair, to turn the crew over to the Iranian FIACs. The motor vessel Hyundai Dubai complied with the request and transferred the crew of the M/T Altair to the Iranian fast boats."

10:00am First US public response to incident

Cmdr. Joshua Frey, spokesman for the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, says they are “aware” of a reported incident in the area: “We are working on getting details,” according to the AP.

10:40: US confirms it received distress call

US confirms that it received the calls at 6-7am. “We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. US Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12a.m. local time and a second one at 7:00 a.m.”

10:53: US is "rendering assistance"

"US Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance," the US says.

11:00 The Kokuka Curageous is not in danger of sinking

Only 14 miles from the coast of Iran and 70 miles from Fujairah "The Kokuka Courageous remains in the area and is not in any danger of sinking. The cargo of methanol is intact," a company statement says.

USS Bainbridge arrives at Kokuka Courageous

USS Bainbridge approaches the Dutch tug Coastal Ace, which had rescued the crew of twenty-one sailors from the M/T Kokuka Courageous "who had abandoned their ship after discovering a probable unexploded limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion," CENTCOM later says

11:00am approx: Front Altair suspected hit by torpedo, says CEO

"Suspected of being hit by a torpedo" around noon Taiwan time (0400GMT), Wu I-Fang, CPC's petrochemical business division CEO, told Reuters.

The Front Altair on fire

11:15 Brent crude price rise

Brent crude rises to over $61, a 2.3 per cent increase, eventually reaching 4 percent increase.

11:16 "Magnetic mine" suspected

A report at Straits Times asserts that a "magnetic mine" may have harmed the Kokuka.

12:00 approx 44 sailors are safe

“Forty-four sailors from the two foreign oil tankers which had an accident this morning in the Sea of Oman were saved from the water by the (navy) rescue unit of Hormozgan province and transferred to the port of Bandar-e-Jask,” IRNA quoted an “informed source." The Hyundai Dubai vessel played a role in helping.

11:43 Japan expresses concern

Japan's Trade Ministry says the two oil tankers reportedly attacked near the Strait of Hormuz carried "Japan-related" cargo. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in Tehran.

10:00-13:00 A US Navy P-8 is in the vicinity

Subsequent reports will show that P-8 is sent to the vicinity. The plane is usually equipped with anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare assets as well as early warning systems.

11:45 images show the Front Altair burning

Images at IRIB News show the vessel burning.

12:40 A tanker is reported leaking

"Front Altair attack: Salvage vessel E-TWO at Front Altair now. Standing off at the moment, reporting large hole just above the waterline, cargo coming out and on fire."

12:45 Iran's IRNA says the Front Altair "sank"

Iran's IRNA reports the Front Altair had "completely sunk."

12:54: Iranian FM Javad Zarif calls incident "suspicious" Zarif: "Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM Shinzo Abe

was meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei for extensive and friendly talks. Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning. Iran's proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative."

13:00 Iranian reports says the vessel Naji helped rescue sailor

13:00 Crude at $62

Oil price jumps

14:55 USS Bainbridge rescued 21 crew

Despite claims Iran rescued all the crew of the two ships, CNN reports "USS Bainbridge has 21 mariners on board from commercial cargo vessel that had to abandon ship after being attacked in Gulf of Oman. USN P-8 now on station overhead conducting surveillance...DOD official: USS Bainbridge was nearby when the attack happened. A tug took on board mariners from Kokuka Courageous and then transferred them to USS Bainbridge where they are now in Gulf of Oman."

15:30 tanker fire can be seen from space

Images show the fire from the Sentinel-3A satellite flew

16:10 Iranians remove mine from ship

CENTCOM: "An IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous."

16:30 Tankers suspend new bookings

Reuters: Tanker owners DHT Holdings and Heidmar suspended new bookings to the Gulf, three ship brokers said

16:40 France condemns the incident

“We have learned that a disturbing incident involving two tankers in the Arabian Sea has occurred today, in the broader context of rising tensions in the region, as evidenced also by the attack on the [Abha airport] in Saudi Arabia yesterday, which we firmly condemned,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson.

19:00 approx : Russia warns against hasty conclusions

“I would like to use this opportunity to warn against hasty attempts to pin the blame on those who are unwanted by a number of well-known states,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said.

19:00 US says Iran "highly likely" behind attacks

"highly likely Iran caused these attacks" US defense official to CBS David Martin.

20:40 US sailors saw limpet mines

CNN "The crew of USS Bainbridge reported that they saw an unexploded limpet mine on the side of one of the ships attacked today in the Gulf of Oman," according to a US defense official familiar with the matter.

20:40: Tankers hit at waterline, coordinated attack

Tankers hit "at or below the waterline, in close proximity to the engine room while underway," according to the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko).

21:00 Trump says Iran not ready for talks

"While I very much appreciate P.M. Abe going to Iran to meet with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, I personally feel that it is too soon to even think about making a deal. They are not ready, and neither are we!"

21:17 US Secretary of State blames Iran for attack

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the United States has assessed, based on intelligence, type of weapons used and sophistication of assaults, that Iran is responsible for the attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

24:00 Full CENTCOM details of June 13 posted online

See the full account

June 14, 2019

1:00 US Bainbridge in contact with Kokuka still and warns of interference

Photos released show aid given to sailors.

1:00 Iran published video of the crew of the Front Altair in Iran

Press TV shows video of the crew claiming they are receiving hospitality.

1:18 CENCOM says it is not interested in war

"We have no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. We will defend our interests, but a war with Iran is not in our strategic interest, nor in the best interest of the int'l community."- Capt. Bill Urban, Lead Spokesman for U.S. Central Command

6:00 US releases photo showing mine on Kokuka Courageous

6:00 US releases video of Iranian removing mine from Kokuka Courageous

Statement details June 13 incident. Video can be seen at US Navy link.

7:00 New details show Iran tried to pick up sailors of Kokuka Courageous

IRGC approach ship at which time the master asked to be transferred to the Bainbridge from the Coastal Ace.

10:00 US may conduct convoys to protect shipping

CENTOM says this is an option

11:18am analysis of the wake of ships

An analysis of the satellite image of ship wakes shows interesting details.

13:20 Japan says a flying object hit Kokuka Courageous

Operator says that a "flying object" hit the tanker

13:55 UK supports US assessment

“We strongly agree with the US assessment,” the reporter tweeted, quoting a UK Foreign Office source.

14:00 Iran says it sent team to see if crew can return to tanker

“Fire has been contained on both tankers...We have sent experts to evaluate whether the crew rescued by Iran can return to (one) tanker,” Allahmorad Afifipour, head of ports in the Iranian coastal province of Hormozgan, told Tasnim news agency.

14:00 Dutch firm to salvage ships

Dutch marine engineer Boskalis said on Friday it had has been appointed to salvage both tankers that were hit in the Gulf of Oman in a suspected attack. Boskalis said the condition of the Front Altair tanker, carrying a cargo of naphtha, was still worrying, although the fire on the ship had been extinguished on Thursday, Reuters reports.

17:00 US says that crew of Front Altair were "detained" by Iran

"Pentagon now believes crew of Norwegian-owned tanker Front Altair detained by Iran. US officials say crew first rescued by merchant vessel, Hyundai Dubai, but Iranian gunboats surrounded ship demanding crew. Captain ordered crew to surrender. 23 crew members being held in Iran," Lucas Tomlinson reports.

17:04 Trump: Iran did it

"Iran did do it, and you know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines didn't explode, and it's probably got essentially Iran written all over it," on Fox.

18:13 Oil spills near Front Altair can be seen New radar images from ICEYE show what may be oil spills near the Front Altair

10:00pm Bainbridge and USS Mason deal with Iranian harassment

USS Mason, guided missile destroyer, came to assist USS Bainbridge and protect the Kokuka Courageous. Iranian tugboat approached "but waved off by US Navy warship." An Iranian tugboat allegedly tried to "tow Kokuka Courageous." waived off by USS Bainbridge.

June 17

US releases additional photos

Photos show the June 13 incident in which IRGC allegedly removed a mine from the Kokuka Courageous. "Imagery taken from a U.S. Navy MH-60R helicopter of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy removing an unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous." Another photo also shows "a view of internal hull penetration/blast damage sustained from a limpet mine attack on the starboard side of motor vessel M/T Kokuka Courageous, while operating in the Gulf of Oman, June 13 2019."

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