Bellingcat @bellingcat Award-winning open source investigation. Want to donate? See here: www.patreon.com/bellingcat Jun. 14, 2019 3 min read

Thread - What can open sources tell us about the alleged attacks on the Kokuka Courageous and Front Altair in the Gulf of Oman? Initially the first step was to identify the vessels involved, using media reporting, then to verify they were actually in the Gulf of Oman.

Using the website Marine Traffic it was possible to find both vessels, and their most recent positions. Both were in the Gulf of Oman, fairly close to each other, and can still be live tracked:
Kokuka Courageous -  https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/shipid:5502927/zoom:14 
Front Altair -  https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/shipid:4275315/zoom:14 

The Marine Traffic Twitter account also shared an animation of the movements of both vessels prior to the attack

Photographs were then shared claiming to show the Front Altair burning. To verify it's the same vessel we need to find reference photographs showing the Front Altair, & again Marine Traffic provides the images needed for verification  https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/photos/of/ships/shipid:4275315/#forward 

Additional verification that the Front Altair was burning came from an additional source, the Sentinel 2 satellite, with imagery published by on their website @sentinel_hub  https://apps.sentinel-hub.com/sentinel-playground/?source=S2&lat=25.393078985873743&lng=57.370240688323975&zoom=15&preset=1-NATURAL-COLOR&layers=B01,B02,B03&maxcc=20&gain=1.0&gamma=1.0&time=2018-12-01%7C2019-06-13&atmFilter=&showDates=false 

At this point the fact the vessels are damaged can clearly be verified, but the next question is how they were damaged. Early press reports claimed a torpedo or mine was used. @TankerTrackers stated it was highly unlikely it was a free floating mine

The US then published two images showing the Kokuka Courageous, showing what it claimed to be damage to the vessel, and a "likely mine" attached to the side of the vessel.

The US helpfully published the photographs in a PowerPoint file where the photographs without annotation could be copied from, and these could be compared to Marine Traffic images of the vessel. Note the lifeboat at the rear.  https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/photos/of/ships/shipid:5502927/#forward 

US Centcom published a statement claiming the following:
 https://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=109911&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=100000760787118&utm_campaign=Fight 

Along with the US Centcom statement the following video was published, claiming to show a IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat removing a unexploded limpet mine from the Kokuka Courageous  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5rZeMqvZ9g 

Bellingcat's @Timmi_Allen made the following video that enhances the original video, and makes it somewhat easier to see what is going on. It does look like an object is removed. But we still have to confirm this is the Kokuka Courageous.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8GzmahqNFM 

We can compare the video to the photograph from US Centcom, which is already confirmed as being the Kokuka Courageous, and it shows the position of the alleged mine is at the same point as the object removed from the vessel in the video.

It should be stressed that we have no insight into what the motivation was to remove the object, something that can only currently be speculated on with the available evidence.

We can also show that the vessel is a type used by the Iranians. @BabakTaghvaee found images of the same types of vessels, with details that match what's visible in the video.

Images of the same vessels can be found in this 2016 article from Iran's Press TV  https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2016/03/10/454973/Iran-IRGC-Fadavi-Ashoura-Zolfaqar 

Press TV also provided more footage of the vessels in this video, linked in the above article, that provides more angles on the vessel allowing other details to be matched to the vessel shown in the CENTCOM video.

We'll stress again that there's currently no evidence to indicate the Iranians planted the mine in the first place, they might have taken it for their own analysis. /FIN

Just published, the president of the operator of the Kokuka Courageous has stated the crew of the ship said "the ship was attacked by a flying object", adding “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship.”
 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/14/world/middleeast/oil-tanker-attack-gulf-oman.html?smid=tw-nytimesworld&smtyp=cur 

And again, to be clear, there's currently no evidence to verify what was removed from the side of the vessel was a mine, and there's no evidence at the moment about who placed it there, so claiming it was a mine placed by the Iranians is pure conjecture at this point in time.

New from @TankerTrackers, an overnight image from NASA showing the Front Altair was still on fire overnight.


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