Iran seizes an American oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman

AGI – The Iranian Navy announced the hijacking of an “American oil tanker” in the Gulf of Oman, just hours after the British Navy reported the hijacking of a ship by “unauthorized armed persons” in those waters. The USA demanded the immediate release of the ship.

“The Navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has announced the seizure of a American oil tanker in the waters of the Sea of ​​Oman upon court order,” the Iranian Naval Forces reported in a brief statement carried by Tasnim Agency. Iranian authorities did not provide the name of the ship or any further details.

The brief announcement comes just hours after the British Navy reported that a ship was boarded by “four to five unauthorized armed persons” in an incident 50 miles northeast of Sohar in Oman “at around 3:30 p.m. GMT.” The captured ship is the oil tanker “St. Nicholas”, flying the Marshall Islands flag and owned by the Greek shipping company Empire Navigation. According to the Greek state agency Amna, the ship's crew consists of 19 people, including one Greek and 18 Filipino nationals.

The ship in question, which sailed under the name Suez Rajan, was embroiled in a years-long dispute in which the U.S. Department of Justice ordered the seizure of the millions of barrels of Iranian crude oil on board.

According to Amna, the ship had loaded about 145,000 tons of oil in Basra, Iraq, and had the Turkish city of Aliaga as its final destination (it had been chartered by the Turkish state oil company Tupras). However, according to a statement from British maritime security firm Ambrey Analytics, the ship is now en route to the Iranian port of Bandar-e Jask.

The US has called on Tehran to release the seized tanker “immediately”. “The Iranian government must immediately release the ship and its crew. This illegal seizure of a commercial vessel is just the latest Iranian or Iranian-authorized behavior aimed at disrupting international trade,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Vedant Patel.

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