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Iranian Missile Strikes U.S.-Owned Tanker in Gulf

October 15, 1987|Associated Press

MANAMA, Bahrain — An Iranian missile slammed into a U.S.-owned supertanker moored near Kuwait's main oil terminal today in what diplomats called a show of defiance after U.S. helicopters twice shot up Iranian ships.

Shipping sources said the missile might have been a Chinese-made Silkworm. If true, it would be the first time Iran has used the medium-range missile against a ship. The sources also said it might have been a shorter-range anti-ship missile fired from a boat.

The missile set the U.S.-owned vessel ablaze but caused no damage to U.S.-flagged ships nearby, the sources said.

The 275,937-ton Liberian-flagged tanker Sungari was hit by the missile in the starboard side at about 5 a.m. Shipping sources who were in contact with Kuwait said ambulances rushed to the terminal.

Though the Sungari is registered by OMI Sungari Transport Inc. of Monrovia, Liberia, it is owned by OMI Corp. of New York, according to the London-based Lloyds Shipping Intelligence Unit.

"I would characterize the damage as serious," Peter Long, vice president of OMI, said in New York. "There is no loss of life, no serious injury."

Long said the ship contained nearly 200,000 tons of crude oil. He said that some of the oil flowed out and caught fire and that the ship was surrounded by flames.

The fire was later extinguished.

Shipping sources said the tanker was anchored at the Al Ahmadi oil terminal, where four U.S.-flagged Kuwaiti tankers were waiting to be loaded with oil for a trip through the Persian Gulf with U.S. Navy escorts.

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