Iran reports “seizure” of tanker in Gulf of Oman

As of: January 11, 2024 4:05 p.m

A Greek tanker has been hijacked in the Gulf of Oman. The Iranian news agency Irna spoke of a “seizure” by the Iranian navy. The ship was at the center of a conflict between Iran and the United States.

An oil tanker has been hijacked in waters 50 nautical miles east of Oman, according to the British maritime authority UKMTO. Armed men boarded the ship flying the Marshall Islands flag, UKMTO said.

The state news agency Irna reported that an American oil tanker was seized by the Iranian navy. The state news agency IRNA reported that the basis for this was a court order. Iranian state media described the tanker as an American ship, citing a statement from the Iranian army.

Contact with the ship lost

British maritime security firm Ambrey said the tanker’s tracking system was switched off as it headed toward the Iranian port of Bandar e-Jask. The tanker had been loaded in the Iraqi port of Basra and was heading to the Turkish port of Aliaga.

The gunmen wore black uniforms and masks, UKMTO said. The tanker’s chief security officer said the ship had changed course toward Iranian territorial waters. After that, contact was broken off. The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is active in the region, has not yet commented on the information.

The tanker was involved in oil smuggling in 2023

The tanker was seized by the US Navy in 2023 for violating sanctions and was then called “Suez Rajan”. At the time, the USA accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guard of wanting to smuggle oil to China with the tanker. They confiscated 980,000 barrels of oil. After unloading the crude oil, the ship was renamed “St. Nikolas”.

The incident contributes to the uncertainty of merchant shipping in the region. The Iranian-backed Houthis have been attacking freighters in the Red Sea since October in order to support the fight of the radical Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip. They are concentrating their attacks on the Bab al-Mandab Strait at the junction of the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. The tanker was hijacked much further east, not far from the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf with the Arabian Sea.

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