Oil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz.
(photo credit: REUTERS/HAMAD I MOHAMMED)
A video posted online on May 31 that has made the rounds, especially on Arabic Twitter accounts, allegedly shows how Iranians had sabotaged ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. However, it actually shows two men dangerously playing on the rudder of a Greek crude oil tanker in some other location, unrelated to the Gulf.
The video appeared on numerous accounts, among them of several men from the Gulf who said it shows how Iran was able to carry out sabotage in May against four oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Some of those who retweeted the video - more than 5,000 times from just one of the numerous shares - appear to support the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Two of the oil tankers that were sabotaged on May 12 were from Saudi Arabia, one was from the UAE and a fourth from Norway.
On May 29, US National Security Adviser John Bolton claimed that naval mines “almost certainly” from Iran damaged the ships. Iran’s foreign minister tweeted Wednesday, claiming that the “Mossad is fabricating intelligence about Iran’s involvement in sabotage in Fujairah.” Fujairah is the UAE port near where the ships were anchored.
An exhaustive investigation by The Jerusalem Post
, examining the video forensically frame by frame, reveals that the tanker in the video is almost certainly not related to any tanker that was in the Gulf at the time. The Ithaki Warrior - a crude oil tanker with similar bow markings, bridge and International Maritime Organization (IMO) number - appears in the video. The ship is currently located off the coast of Greece and was previously off the coast of Italy in May, according to the ship-tracking website Marine Traffic.
In the harrowing video, a man can be seen riding on the ship's rudder, which is exposed out of the water, as the ship appears to not be full of oil. Another man piloting a small speedboat comes up alongside and picks that man up. Apparently, the young men were doing a stunt. The tanker is under way, traveling at several knots. It is not clear where the video took place. A brief second of the video shows the blurry IMO number on the back as 9765366, which corresponds to the Ithaki Warrior’s IMO. Also, the word “warrior” is visible in another section of video from the bow, and the Greek word for warrior can also be barely made out in another frame.
In our search for comparable ships, we examined the other 211 tanker-type ships with the name “Warrior” and checked them against the IMO number and other details. None of them correspond to a ship that was in the Gulf or mentioned in the sabotage reports.
The video does show that it is relatively easy to maneuver up to a large tanker and that a person could sabotage a ship by placing a mine above the rudder and then leave easily on a speed boat. But it doesn’t show that anyone did so in broad daylight to this particular ship. What it appears to show is two young men doing something incredibly dangerous.
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