Numerous theories have surfaced for what damaged the Japanese oil tanker sailing between Oman and Iran on Thursday. Investigators say it may have been a sea mine, a pirate attack, or a collision with a submarine.
But beyond that, officials investigating a huge dent in the side of the M. Star are still some way off establishing exactly what happened.
Several theories are doing the rounds: The 333-meter-long ship collided with a submarine or a degraded sea mine left over from the Iran-Iraq war; there was an internal explosion; or, most unsettling of all, it was the target of an attack by pirates or terrorists in a strategically vital stretch of water in a sensitive region.
But Mitsui OSK Lines, operator of the world’s second-biggest fleet of oil tankers, was standing by its initial suspicion that the M Star had been “attacked by external sources” as it left the Gulf and entered the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway through which 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil passes. Japan depends on the Middle East for 90 percent of its oil.