The U.S. Navy has reported that Iranian vessels attempted to seize two oil tanker ships near the Strait of Hormuz, which separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, stated that the Iranian navy made these attempts to seize commercial tankers that were lawfully transiting international waters. However, the U.S. Navy responded immediately and successfully prevented the seizure of the ships.
During the incident, the Iranian vessels fired shots at the oil tankers in an effort to seize them. However, only the second tanker was fired upon, and fortunately, no damage or casualties were confirmed. The incidents took place in the waters between Iran and Oman, according to the Navy.
Commander Hawkins did not disclose the specific methods used by the U.S. Navy to prevent the seizure of the ships, nor did he provide any further details at this stage. The identity of the second vessel involved in the incident remains unclear.
Oil giant Chevron confirmed that one of the incidents involved their large crude oil carrier, the Richmond Voyager. Chevron assured that the crew on board the ship is safe, and there were no injuries or loss of containment. The vessel is reported to be operating normally, with crew safety remaining a top priority.
British maritime security company Ambrey also reported that a warship from a multinational navy task group was in the area at the time of the incident. The warship had requested the Iranian navy to refrain from harassing one of the merchant ships.
As of yet, the Iranian regime has not commented on the allegations, and no statements have been published by its state-run affiliated news outlets.
This incident is part of a series of attacks on shipping in the strategic Gulf waters since 2019 during periods of tension between the United States and Iran. Just over a month ago, the U.S. Navy reported that Iran had seized two oil tankers within a week’s time.
In a separate incident a few weeks prior, Iran retrieved an oil tanker that had been seized by a foreign company five years ago in an operation conducted by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), as reported by the state-run news agency IRNA.
The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet has been actively working with regional allies and partners to increase the rotation of ships and aircraft patrolling in and around the Strait of Hormuz to counter Iran’s recent unlawful merchant vessel seizures.
Over the past two years, Iranian actions of harassment, attack, or interference with around 15 internationally flagged merchant vessels have been reported by Navy officials. These actions have led to concerns about the safety and security of shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Strait of Hormuz is a critical chokepoint that connects the Gulf of Oman with the Persian Gulf, serving as a transit route for about a fifth of the world’s supply of crude oil and related products. The daily oil flows through the strait account for approximately 21% of global petroleum liquids consumption.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have been strained since the 1979 revolution and regime change, but they have escalated since the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. Iran has since sought to resume its nuclear activities while claiming they are for peaceful purposes. Furthermore, Iran’s involvement in providing drones to Russia for the conflict in Ukraine has further exacerbated tensions.
The U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal was motivated by President Donald Trump’s criticism of the agreement, claiming it enriched the Iranian regime and allowed it to continue its malign behavior. The deal was seen as only delaying Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons while preserving their nuclear research and development capabilities.
In conclusion, the attempted seizure of two oil tanker ships by Iranian vessels near the Strait of Hormuz has been successfully prevented by the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The incidents highlight the ongoing tensions between the United States and Iran in the Gulf waters and the importance of safeguarding the shipping routes in the Strait of Hormuz.