Iranian drone responsible for attack on Israeli-owned tanker, US Navy confirms

The US navy said Iran's Shahed-136 drone ripped a 30-inch-wide (76 cm) hole into the back of the commercial tanker.

 Tanker Pacific Zircon is seen at sea near Isle of Wright, Britain in this undated handout picture. (photo credit: David Potter/Handout via REUTERS)
Tanker Pacific Zircon is seen at sea near Isle of Wright, Britain in this undated handout picture.
(photo credit: David Potter/Handout via REUTERS)

The US Navy confirmed Iran's connection to the attack on the Israeli-owned Pacific Zircon tanker off the coast of Oman last week.

Debris analysis from the attack concluded that the same type of Iranian drone that Tehran has supplied to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine was used to attack the commercial tanker, the US military said in a statement posted on the US Central Command's (CENTCOM) website.

The American navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, published photos and details of its investigation into the attack on the Liberian-flagged tanker, including debris from the Shahed-136 drone itself.

In a statement, the navy said the drone ripped a 30-inch-wide (76 cm) hole into the back of the ship, and the explosive impact damaged a shipboard boiler, portable water tank and life raft.

Graphic illustration and images captured by a U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal team aboard M/T Pacific Zircon, November 16, 2022, showing the location where an Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) penetrated M/T Pacific Zircon?s outer hull during an attack (credit: US NAVY CENTRAL COMMAND/VIA REUTERS)Graphic illustration and images captured by a U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal team aboard M/T Pacific Zircon, November 16, 2022, showing the location where an Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) penetrated M/T Pacific Zircon?s outer hull during an attack (credit: US NAVY CENTRAL COMMAND/VIA REUTERS)

Iranian drone attack 'deliberate, flagrant and dangerous'

"The Iranian attack on a commercial tanker transiting international waters was deliberate, flagrant and dangerous," Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the top US Navy commander in the Middle East, said in a statement.

The attack "endangered the lives of the ship's crew and destabilized maritime security in the Middle East," Cooper added.

The US military's statement confirmed previous statements made by CENTCOM and US national security advisor Jake Sullivan. It also confirmed what Israeli officials told The Jerusalem Post last week.

Israeli officials told the Post that the attack on the Liberian-flagged ship operated by Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping was to distract from a failed Iranian assassination plot in Georgia against an Israeli businessman.