CNN has obtained exclusive footage of 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, taken by a Western defense official, show a hole in what appears to be the hull of the Liberian-flagged Pacific Zircon, which is owned by Singapore and affiliated with Israel, as well as what appears to be the crushed remains of a drone next to evidence markers. The charred remains of the drone are numbered 229 on the side.
CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the photos.
On Wednesday, US and Israeli officials pointed the finger of blame at Iran, identifying the drone as a HESA Shahed 136, similar to the Iranian-made self-detonating drones used by Russia in Ukraine.
The incident caused no injuries, according to Eastern Pacific Shipping, the ship’s operating company. It also caused no major damage, according to a US military official.
“We are in communication with the ship and there are no reports of injuries or contamination. All crew members are safe and responsible,” Eastern Pacific Shipping said Wednesday. “There is some minor damage to the ship’s hull, but no cargo was spilled or water entered.”
A British Royal Navy frigate, HMS Lancaster, provided assistance to the crew of the Pacific Zircon after being informed of the incident, a spokesman for the British Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
On Wednesday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Iran was likely behind a drone strike. ”
“After reviewing the available information, we are convinced that Iran likely carried out this attack using a UAV, a lethal capability that it is increasingly using directly and through its proxies in the Middle East and distributing to Russia for use in Ukraine,” Sullivan said.
He warned that the action threatens international shipping, trade and “freedom of navigation through this vital waterway”.
The US Central Command also said on Wednesday that a “Shahed series one-way attack drone” hit the ship.
“This unmanned aerial vehicle attack on a civilian ship in this critical strait demonstrates once again the destabilizing nature of Iranian malign activity in the region,” General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of the US Central Command, said in a statement.
An Israeli official told CNN on Wednesday that the drone strike was “an Iranian provocation in the Gulf” linked to the FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in Qatar on Sunday.
“It is not an attack on Israel,” the official said. “It’s the same thing they usually do in the Gulf, trying to disrupt stability and especially influence 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. That ship was associated with an Israeli billionaire.
Football teams and supporters from 32 countries, including Iran, gather in Qatar ahead of the World Cup.