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U.S. says Iran responsible for drone attack on oil tanker in Middle East

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The Navy says Iran was behind a recent drone attack on an oil tanker crossing through international waters in the Middle East.

The Liberian-flagged Pacific Zircon was struck on Nov. 15 about 150 miles off the coast of Oman, according to a statement from Eastern Pacific Shipping, the owners of the vessel. 

The Navy identified the drone that hit the commercial tanker as an Iranian-manufactured Shahed-136. It is the same type of aerial drone being sent to Russia to aid in its operations in Ukraine, officials said.

The crew of the Pacific Zircon was safe and accounted for after the drone attack.

“There is some minor damage to the vessel’s hull but no spillage of cargo or water ingress,” Eastern Pacific Shipping said at the time.

The Navy said the drone attack tore a 30-inch-wide hole in the back of the ship, damaging a shipboard boiler, potable water tank and life raft.

The Navy sent explosive ordnance technicians to the ship to assess the damage and collect debris from the unmanned aerial vehicle for forensic analysis. They also obtained samples of explosive residue for lab testing, officials said.

The evidence from the damaged tanker was taken to a laboratory in Bahrain at the headquarters of the U.S. 5th Fleet, where it was identified as a Shahed-136 UAV. Navy officials said it fits the “historical pattern” of Iran’s increasing use of such lethal technology either directly or through proxies throughout the Middle East.

“The Iranian attack on a commercial tanker transiting international waters was deliberate, flagrant, and dangerous, endangering the lives of the ship’s crew and destabilizing maritime security in the Middle East,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of 5th Fleet, said in a statement. 

Iran has supplied aerial drone technology to the Houthis in Yemen that was used in attacks earlier this year against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, U.S. officials said.





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