An old image of a Norwegian cargo ship in flames and a cloud of smoke engulfing it is circulating on social media with false claims that an Israeli billionaire's ship was hit by a drone in the Indian Ocean.
BOOM found that the image is from 2019 when a Norwegian-owned oil tanker was attacked in the Gulf of Oman allegedly by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
The image has been shared with the caption, "An ISRAELI BILLIONAIRE'S cargo ship was just hit by a drone in the Indian Ocean."
According to reports, the US Navy captured five attackers who seized an Israel linked cargo ship in the Gulf Of Aden this week.The tanker received an SOS call from the commercial tanker that had been taken over by armed assailants in the Gulf of Aden. Meanwhile the US Navy alleged that missiles were fired by Houthi rebels of Yemen targeting the Israel linked ship.
BOOM ran a reverse image search on the photograph and found multiple news reports from 2019 that contained the image of the oil tanker in flames.
We found a report by The Guardian, published on June 13, 2019, with the same image. The report was headlined as, "Oil tanker attacks will inflame conflict between the US, its allies and Iran." The report describes attacks on merchant ships and oil tankers in the Gulf waters and its impact on the economic and political landscape. The image in the news report has been attributed to EPA.
We then found the image in the EPA Image Library; the photograph was uploaded on June 13, 2019. The description of the image states, "The crude oil tanker Front Altair on fire in the Gulf of Oman, 13 June 2019. According to the Norwegian Maritime Authority, the Front Altair is currently on fire in the Gulf of Oman after allegedly being attacked and in the early morning of 13 June between the UAE and Iran."
We also found a video report by the Wall Street Journal, published on June 13, 2019 that contained videos of the burning oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman. The tanker in the video is similar to the one seen in the viral social media image.
You can view the video report here.
A Financial Times report stated that two ships, one Japanese-owned and the other Norwegian-owned were hit on the day by unknown weapons. The report carried details of the attack on the ships and their approximate location when the incident happened.
This report can be viewed here.
The US military in a video said that they had visuals of Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the tankers targeted. The ships which were damaged included MT Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous from Japan. The operators of these ships did not however offer immediate explanation on who caused the damage.