Oman Oil Tankers: Exclusive photos from the aftermath of Pacific Zircon drone strike


CNN has obtained exclusive footage showing the damage and debris from a self-detonating drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman on Tuesday night.

The two images, provided by a Western defense official, show a hole in what appears to be the hull of the Liberian-flagged, Singaporean-Israel-linked Pacific Zircon and what appear to be the smashed remains of a drone alongside evidence markers. The charred remains of the drone show the number 229 on the side.

CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the photos.

On Wednesday, American and Israeli officials blamed Iran, identifying the drone as the HESA Shahed 136, similar to the Iranian-made self-detonating drones deployed by Russia in Ukraine.

According to Eastern Pacific Shipping, the ship’s operating company, the incident caused no injuries. According to a US military officer, it didn’t do any major damage either.

“We are in contact with the ship and there are no reports of injuries or contamination. All crew members are safe and accountable,” Eastern Pacific Shipping said Wednesday. “There is some minor hull damage, but no cargo was spilled or water got in.”

A British Royal Navy frigate, HMS Lancaster, offered assistance to the Pacific Zircon’s crew after being made aware of the incident, a spokesman for Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The remains of a drone that struck the tanker Pacific Zircon on Monday, November 15, 2022 in a photo exclusively obtained by a Western Defense official for CNN on Thursday, November 17, 2022

On Wednesday, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Iran was likely behind a drone strike, saying in a statement that while there was “no justification for this attack,” it was “the latest in a pattern of such actions and.” broader destabilizing activities”. ”

“After reviewing the available information, we are confident that Iran likely carried out this attack using a UAV, a lethal capability it is increasingly using directly and through its proxies throughout the Middle East and spreading to Russia for use in Ukraine,” said Sullivan.

He warned that the action threatened international shipping, trade and “freedom of navigation on this crucial waterway”.

The US Central Command also said on Wednesday that a “Shahed series disposable attack drone” struck the ship.

This undated photo, provided by Nabeel Hashmi, shows the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Pacific Zircon operated by Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping at Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2015.

“This attack by an unmanned aerial vehicle on a civilian ship in this critical strait demonstrates once again the destabilizing nature of Iranian malign activities in the region,” said Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of the US Central Command, in a statement.

An Israeli official told CNN on Wednesday the drone strike was “an Iranian provocation in the Gulf” related to the World Cup, which begins Sunday in Qatar.

“It’s not an attack on Israel,” the official said. “It’s the same thing they usually do in golf, trying to disrupt stability and mainly affect World Cup events.”

The official asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation.

The weapon and target fit the pattern of attacks linked to Iran in the past. On July 30, 2021, an armed drone attacked a cargo ship named Mercer Street off the coast of Oman, killing two. This ship was linked to an Israeli billionaire.

Football teams and fans from 32 nations including Iran gather in Qatar ahead of the World Cup.

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