REFILE-Japan analysing damage to tanker in Hormuz Strait

(Corrects with updated link to Q+A on possible causes)

TOKYO, Aug 18 (BestGrowthStock) – Checks on a Japanese tanker damaged
by what it reported as an “explosion” near the Strait of Hormuz
oil shipping route found a soot-like substance in a large dent in
its hull, the Transport Ministry in Tokyo said on Wednesday.

It was unclear yet what caused the blackish substance, which
was spread in a radial pattern, and it will be analysed further,
a ministry official told reporters.

Checks of the tanker’s radar showed six ships around it just
before it suffered the damage, but no evidence had been found to
link the incident to those ships, the ministry said.

Public broadcaster NHK said on Tuesday the tanker’s radar
detected a small ship that made suspicious movements near it at
the time of the incident, and that the Transport Ministry
believed there was a possibility that ship launched an attack.

“More than 80 percent of oil tankers coming to Japan go
through that area. An incident like this in such a region is a
grave concern for us,” Transport Minister Seiji Maehara told the
opening session on Wednesday of a committee set up to investigate
the cause of the damage.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Map showing location of incident: http://r.reuters.com/mez22n Q+A on possible causes: [ID:nLDE6731OU] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

The incident, shortly after midnight on July 28, injured one
seaman but caused no oil spill or disruption to shipping in the
strategic waterway, which is the gateway to the oil-producing
Gulf and handles 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil.

Industry sources said the tanker was carrying more than 2
million barrels of Qatar Land and Abu Dhabi Lower Zakum crudes,
equivalent to about half of Japan’s daily oil needs.

The dent in its hull was 22 metres (72 ft) high, of which 16
metres was below the waterline, the ministry said. It was up to
23 metres wide and caved in the hull to a depth of 1 metre.

The 333-metre-long very large crude carrier, named M.Star and
operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, was able to resume its voyage to
Japan after checks at a nearby port.

“Even when a ship is stationary, some engines are often
running to supply electricity to the ship, and smoke comes out of
its chimney,” Hiroaki Sakashita, director of the Transport
Ministry’s safety and environment policy division, told
reporters.

“That could be what it is,” he said, referring to the
soot-like substance collected from the dent.

The tanker’s radar showed three large ships and three small
ships near it right before the incident. The large ships were
identified. Of the small ships, one was 6 km (4 miles) ahead of
the tanker and heading in the same direction, another was 7 km
ahead and almost stationary, and the third 4.5 km to its left and
sailing away.

“We are aware of various news reports. But there has been no
specific evidence so far that connects the incident to these
ships,” Sakashita said.

He said the tanker’s data recorder caught a sound believed to
have been caused by the incident. The nature of the sound, which
lasted about three seconds, is also being analysed.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Michael Watson)

REFILE-Japan analysing damage to tanker in Hormuz Strait