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This post will be updated with additional information as it becomes available.
Two U.S. guided-missile destroyers are aiding a merchant ship that was damaged in an alleged attack by Iranian sectarian forces on Thursday, U.S. 5th Fleet officials told USNI News on Friday.
USS - Mason - DDG-87 - USS - Bainbridge
USS Mason (DDG-87) and USS Bainbridge (DDG-96) are assisting M/V Kokuka Courageous as the ship is prepared to be towed for repairs, U.S. 5th Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Joshua Frey said on Friday morning. The ships were operating just off of Iranian territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman, according to signals from the merchant ships’ AIS navigation transponders.
Twenty-one mariners who abandoned the tanker after an explosion are now back aboard to assist in an operation to tow the Japanese-owned ship to safety.
USS - Bainbridge - Contact - M/V - Kokuka
“USS Bainbridge remains in close contact with M/V Kokuka Courageous and is the on-scene command authority,” Frey said.
On Thursday morning local time, Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned Front Altair were damaged in what U.S. officials allege were attacks from small attack craft owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy.
US - Navy - Image - Damage - M/V
US Navy image of damage to M/V Kokua Courageous on June 13, 2019.
Separate from the regular Iranian military, the IRGCN answers to Iran’s religious leadership and is responsible for Iran’s coastal defense and the Strait of Hormuz.
Ships - Asia - Attacks - Meeting - Prime
Both ships were bound for Asia. The attacks occurred during a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Iran’s sectarian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran.
As of early Friday morning, the Norwegian-owned tanker Front Altair was still afloat but burning nearby. U.S. officials were unable to provide additional details on support to save the ship. Iranian state-controlled media released photos of firefighting vessels attempting to control the burning. The crew was initially rescued by a South Korea merchant ship but...
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