Story developmentstory development,
The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) published a story acknowledging the Iranian Navy's seizure of an oil tanker.
Iran said its forces seized an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, which earlier in the day was reported to have been boarded by gunmen in military uniform.
The Iranian Islamic Republic News Agency said, “The Iranian Navy detained an American oil tanker in the waters of the Gulf of Oman according to a judicial order.”
“After the theft of Iranian oil by the United States last year, the Iranian Navy seized the oil tanker St. Nicholas,” the Iranian Fars news agency reported, citing an army statement.
The seizure comes weeks after attacks by Iran-backed Yemeni Houthis on ships in the Red Sea for what they said was a defense of Palestinians in Gaza during the Israeli war on the Strip.
The group's attacks have raised the risk of possible retaliatory strikes by US-led forces patrolling the busy waterway, especially after a UN Security Council vote on Wednesday condemning the Houthis.
But while the Houthis are concentrated in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, to the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula, Thursday's incident occurred near the Strait of Hormuz, between Oman and Iran.
British maritime security company Ambrey previously said the incident began at about 7:30 a.m. (03:30 GMT) when “four or five” men boarded the Marshall Islands-flagged ship St. Nicholas, about 50 nautical miles east of Sohar in Oman, then heading towards Bandar Jask in Iran.
Tankertrackers.com, which tracks and reports global shipments of crude oil, said the tanker was carrying “Iraqi oil” and had previously been named Suez Rajan.
The recently renamed tanker was previously prosecuted and fined for carrying sanctioned Iranian oil, which was seized by U.S. authorities, Embry said. The year-long conflict ended with the US Department of Justice confiscating one million barrels of Iranian crude.
The British Army's UKTMO, which provides warnings to sailors in the Middle East, said the incident began in the waters between Oman and Iran, and that it had received a report from the ship's security director of hearing “unidentified voices on the phone” alongside the ship's captain. .
Embry said the men covered surveillance cameras as they boarded the ship. She added that when the tanker appeared to be veering towards Bandar Jask, its tracking device was turned off.
The ship “Saint Nicholas” was sailing from the Iraqi port of Basra to Turkey, according to the “Marine Traffic” tracking website.
The ship was manned by a crew of 19, including 18 Filipinos and a Greek national, the operating company said, adding that it was chartered by Turkish oil refiner Tupras.
The Gulf of Oman, a major oil industry route separating Oman and Iran, has witnessed a series of kidnappings and attacks over the years, in which Iran has often been a party.
Since the collapse of the Iran nuclear deal, Iran and the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Middle East, have faced a series of tense standoffs in the waterway.
The United States and its allies have also seized Iranian oil shipments since 2019, leading to a series of attacks in the Middle East attributed to Iran, as well as the seizure of ships by its military and paramilitary forces, threatening global shipping.
“Infuriatingly humble analyst. Bacon maven. Proud food specialist. Certified reader. Avid writer. Zombie advocate. Incurable problem solver.”