SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

US navy says it prevented Iran from seizing tankers in Gulf of Oman

The US Navy said it had intervened to prevent Iran from seizing two commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday in the latest in a series of seizures or attacks on ships in the area since 2019.

Chevron said one incident involved the Richmond Voyager, a very large crude carrier managed by the US oil major, and that crew onboard were safe.

An Iranian navy vessel fired shots during the second seizure attempt, Navy Fifth Fleet spokesperson Timothy Hawkins said.

Both incidents took place in waters between Iran and Oman.

Hawkins did not say how the US Navy prevented the seizure of the ships or provide any further information at this stage. Details regarding the second vessel involved in the incident were not immediately clear.

British maritime security company Ambrey said a warship with a multinational navy task group was in the area at the time and had requested the Iranian navy to “cease harassing” one of the merchant ships.

Iran’s state news agency IRNA said on Wednesday that Iranian authorities have not commented yet on the matter.

Since 2019, there has been a series of attacks on shipping in strategic Gulf waters at times of tension between the United States and Iran.

Iran seized two oil tankers in a week just over a month ago, the US Navy said.

About a fifth of the world’s supply of crude oil and oil products passes through the Strait of Hormuz, a choke point between Iran and Oman, according to data from analytics firm Vortexa.

A Chevron spokesperson said: “There is no loss of life, injury, or loss of containment” aboard the Richmond Voyager.

“The vessel is operating normally. The safety of our crew is our top priority,” the spokesperson said.

The Richmond Voyager was sailing away from the Gulf with Singapore listed as its destination, Refinitiv ship tracking showed.

Top ship registries including the Marshall Islands and Greece have warned in recent weeks of the threat to commercial shipping in the Gulf including the Strait of Hormuz.

In another point of tension, the US confiscated a cargo of Iranian oil aboard a tanker in April in a sanctions enforcement operation, sources told Reuters.

That vessel, the Marshall Islands-flagged Suez Rajan, is anchored outside the US Gulf of Mexico terminal of Galveston waiting to discharge its cargo, according to Refinitiv ship tracking.

    Source:
  • Asharq Al-Awsat