2019 photo shared as drone attack on Israeli ship in Indian Ocean

By: Umme Kulsum
November 27 2023

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2019 photo shared as drone attack on Israeli ship in Indian Ocean

Screenshots of X posts sharing an image with a claim that a ship owned by an Israeli billionaire was attacked by a suspected Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The photograph captures a fire on the ‘Front Altair,’ a ship owned by Norwegian shipping firm Frontline, in the Gulf of Oman in June 2019.

Claim ID 9f7e55f9

What's the claim?

On November 25, 2023, a U.S. defense official confirmed that a suspected Iranian drone attacked a container ship owned by Israeli billionaire CMA CGM in the Indian Ocean, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Following the incident, an image depicting a cargo ship ablaze is being circulated extensively on social media platforms, including Facebook and X. Right-wing influencer Jackson Hinkle shared the image with the caption, "An ISRAELI BILLIONAIRE'S cargo ship was just hit by a drone in the Indian Ocean." The post was viewed over 2.8 million times with about 8000 reshares. Archive versions of the posts can be found here and here

It's important to note that Hinkle, with over 2.2 million followers on X, has spread numerous falsehoods, particularly in the dissemination of propaganda and misinformation during the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. Logically Facts has fact-checked several of his claims, and you can find the debunked information here and here.

Archive versions of the posts viral on Facebook can be found here and here.  

Screenshots of the claim made online (Source: X/@jacksonhinklle/Modified by Logically Facts)

What we found 

Logically Facts found that the image is of an oil tanker burning in the Gulf of Oman in June 2019.

By conducting a reverse image, we discovered multiple news reports featuring this image, all published in June 2019. A Business Insider report that carried the photo was titled, "The oil tanker attacks could make a US-Iran military showdown inevitable, experts warn." The caption said, "The Front Altair oil tanker on fire in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, June 13, 2019." It was credited to AP Photos and ISNA (Iranian Students' News Agency). 

We were also able to find several images of this particular incident from 2019 on AP Photos. The description of the AP photo, similar to the viral photo, read, "An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA)." 

What we know about the June 2019 incident

According to a report by Reuters, on June 13, 2019, two oil tankers, the Front Altair, owned by Norwegian shipping firm Frontline, and Kokuka Courageous, owned by Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo Ltd, were attacked in the Gulf of Oman near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The incident heightened tensions in the region. According to CNN, the U.S. and some other nations blamed Iran for the attacks. This incident increased concerns about the security of international shipping routes.

The verdict

This image is from June 2019 and shows a "Front Altair" oil tanker that was attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The photograph is unrelated to the recent incident that reportedly happened in the Indian Ocean. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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