The Iranian Navy announced this Thursday the capture of an “American tanker” in the Sea of Oman, an action taken in response to the seizure of oil from the Persian country by the United States last year.
“The Navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran announced the seizure of a US oil tanker in the waters of the Sea of Oman by court order“, reported the Iranian naval force in a brief statement released by the Tasnim agency.
“The tanker was seized by a court order in response to the theft of Iranian oil by the United States in 2023”, added the media of the Persian country.
The brief announcement comes hours after the British Navy reported that a ship was boarded” by 4-5 unauthorized armed people at approximately 3:30 GMT” in an incident that occurred 50 miles northeast of Sohar, Oman.
Although Iranian authorities identified the captured vessel as “American,” the tanker is the “St. Nikolas” which sailed under the flag of the Marshall Islands and belongs to the Greek shipping company Empire Navigation.
According to the Greek state agency AMNA, the ship is manned by a total of 19 people, one of Greek nationality and 18 of Filipino nationality.
The theft of Iranian oil that led to the capture of the ship
The vessel in question was involved in a year-long dispute in which The United States Department of Justice ended up seizing one million barrels of Iranian crude oil which she was carrying when she was still sailing under the name “Suez Rajan”.
According to AMNA, the ship had loaded Basra, Iraqabout 145,000 tons of oil and had the city of Aliaga (Türkiye)since it had been chartered by the Turkish state oil company Tupras.
However, the ship is now heading towards the Iranian port of Bandar-e-Jaskaccording to a statement issued by the British maritime security company Ambrey Analytics.
This incident occurs in the middle of strong tensions in the areawith a sharp increase in attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, allies of Tehran, against ships in the Red Sea in retaliation for Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip.