A U.S. Navy explosives expert said that the explosive mine used in last week’s attack on a Japanese-owned oil tanker bears a striking resemblance to explosive mines known to be used by the Iranian military.

Explosives expert Cmdr. Sean Keedo of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet spoke with the press Wednesday, June 19, about ongoing investigations into attacks against Norwegian owned tanker Front Altair and Japanese owned tanker Kokuka Courageous, which was the target of the mine attacks.


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“Right now, there is an ongoing joint and combined investigation with our regional partners into the attacks on motor vessel, Kokuka Courageous, as well as motor vessel, Front Altair. I can tell you now that it is NAVSAT’s assessment that the attack on motor vessel Kokuka Courageous and the damage that was caused was a result of limpet mines that were attached to the skin of the ship.”

The damaged Panama-flagged, Japanese owned oil tanker Kokuka Courageous is anchored off Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, on June 19, 2019. The limpet mines used to attack the oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz bore “a striking resemblance” to similar mines displayed by Iran, a U.S. Navy explosives expert said Wednesday. Iran has denied being involved. (Fay Abuelgasim/AP Photo)

Last Thursday, Secretary of State Pompeo said Iran was responsible for the attacks on the oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and that Iran had warned in April that it would interrupt the flow of oil through the strait. Pompeo said Iran’s aggressions have been increasing and listed multiple attacks involving Iran or its surrogates in recent months.

Keedo said that the mine used on the Japanese tanker has turned their attention toward Iran.

A hole the U.S. Navy said was made by a limpet mine is seen on the damaged oil tanker Kokuka Courageous off Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, on June 19, 2019. (Fay Abuelgasim/AP Photo)

“The attack occurring on the motor vessel Kokuka Courageous was a result of limpet mines. The limpet mine that was used does bear a striking resemblance to that which has been publicly displayed in the Iranian military parades. There are distinguishing features and I will let you know that explosive ordnance disposal technicians in the U.S. Service are all trained to identify key identification features, which help us indicate what type of ordnance we’re approaching.”

Keedo said that the evidence consistent with an explosive mine attack and not consistent with an external flying object hitting the ship and said that additional evidence has been collected, which could point to specific individuals.

A magnet is shown by the U.S. Navy that they said came from a limpet mine that didn’t explode on a Japanese-owned oil tanker at a 5th Fleet base, during a trip organized by the Navy for journalists, near Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, on June 19, 2019. (Kamran Jebreili/AP Photo)

“So we’ve recovered biometric information to this point already, which can be used to build a criminal case to hold the individuals responsible accountable. (reporter asks question) Handprints, fingerprints, latent prints of value.”

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