Iraqi Jets Hit West German Ship during Attack on Iranians
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) _ A West German freighter limped into port Wednesday with a gaping hole in its side suffered during an Iraqi air strike on Iran’s Kharg Island oil facility and nearby shipping lanes.
The 16,169-ton Jolly Indaco, carrying a cargo of marble and household goods for Kuwait and other Arab ports in the Persian Gulf, was hit late Tuesday night.
Capt. Arno Maasland said no one aboard the ship was injured but at one point the year-old vessel was in danger of sinking.
The ship altered course for Bahrain as crewmen struggled to pump out water faster than it flooded into the ship, the 52-year-old captain said.
″We do not know who did it, we saw no warplanes, but at 11:30 p.m. (Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. EDT) there was a sudden flash of light, and within seconds an explosion that made the whole ship vibrate,″ Maasland told The Associated Press in a ship-to-shore telephone conversation after arriving at this island nation off the Saudi Arabian coast.
However, an Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad said Iraqi jet fighters ″scored accurate and effective hits on a very large maritime target off the Iranian coast at 11:30 p.m. and returned safely to their base.″
Iraq has claimed five ship attacks over the past 10 days ″off the Iranian coast,″ but of those only the attack on the West German freighter has been confirmed. The last confirmed Iraqi attack on a ship was the North Korean supertanker Son Bong which was set ablaze in its berth at the Kharg Island terminal Sept. 19.
Iran and Iraq have been at war since September 1980. Iraqi warplanes have attacked ships sailing to and from Iranian ports in the northern part of the gulf around Kharg Island since February 1984 in an effort to stop Iran’s oil trade and cut into the oil income that helps finance the war.
Maasland said a missile punched a hole 32 feet by 16 feet just above the waterline of the Jolly Indaco, which is owned by Project Carriers A.G. of Bremen. He said the ship had made three previous trips into the gulf in recent months.
″My ship is still in bad condition, but the situation has been brought under control and there is no fear now that it will sink,″ Maasland said.
The ship carried a crew of 21 plus two women passengers, all West Germans.