Tehran seizes second oil tanker in Gulf

Published May 4, 2023
Fast-attack crafts from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy swarming Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi as it transits the Strait of Hormuz from Dubai to port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, Arabian Gulf, are seen in this screenshot of a video provided by the US Navy on May 3, 2023. — Handout via Reuters
Fast-attack crafts from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy swarming Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi as it transits the Strait of Hormuz from Dubai to port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, Arabian Gulf, are seen in this screenshot of a video provided by the US Navy on May 3, 2023. — Handout via Reuters

DUBAI: Sanctions-hit Iran seized on Wednesday a second oil tanker in less than a week as tensions rise in the commercially vital Gulf waters.

A fleet of high-speed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) craft surrounded the Greek-owned Niovi as it travelled empty from Dubai to Fujairah, another port in the United Arab Emirates, the US military said.

The Panama-flagged vessel’s seizure in the Strait of Hormuz comes six days after a similar incident also in the Gulf, which lies between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula and carries at least a third of the world’s seaborne oil.

“A dozen IRGCN fast-attack craft swarmed the vessel in the middle of the strait,” said a statement from the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet.

“The IRGCN subsequently forced the oil tanker to reverse course and head toward Iranian territorial waters off the coast of Bandar Abbas, Iran,” it said.

Iran has confirmed the seizure “following an order from the judiciary”, the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website said.

The Gulf has witnessed a spate of incidents since 2018, when then-US president Donald Trump pulled out of a nuclear agreement and re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran.

On last Thursday, helicopter-borne Iranian navy commandos abseiled onto the deck of a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker, the Advantage Sweet, in the Gulf of Oman. It was then moved to Bandar Abbas, TankerTrackers.com said.

The Niovi’s capture also followed a warning from Greek authorities of heightened risk after the US seizure, Ambrey added.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2023

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