Iranian navy seizes oil tanker in Gulf of Oman

The Iranian navy has confirmed it has seized an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman.
It comes after the vessel St Nikolas was reported to have been boarded by armed men this morning.

The state-run IRNA news agency ran a brief story acknowledging the seizure by Iran’s navy. It did not identify the vessel, but said it came as a result of a judicial order.
The St Nikolas was once involved in a dispute with the US justice department, that saw a million barrels of Iranian crude oil seized.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKTMO), which provides warnings to sailors in the Middle East, said the incident began early in the morning, 50 miles off the coast of Oman.

UKTMO described receiving a report from the ship’s security manager of hearing “unknown voices over the phone” alongside the ship’s captain.

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It said it was unable to make further contact with the vessel and that the authorities were investigating the incident.
The development comes amid high tensions in the nearby Red Sea, where attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels based in Yemen are disrupting shipping.
The private intelligence firm Ambrey said “four to five armed persons” boarded the ship. It said that the men had covered the surveillance cameras as they boarded.


The incident began early on Wednesday morning in waters between Oman and Iran, in an area where ships coming in and out of the Strait of Hormuz pass through.
A significant proportion of global oil trade passes through the Strait of Hormuz, despite the fact that in recent years waters around the strait have seen a series of ship seizures by Iran since the collapse of the country’s nuclear deal.

Image: Pic: Ship tracking and maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic,
Read more:Who are the Houthis and why are they attacking ships in the Red Sea?
The St Nikolas had earlier been named the Suez Rajan, associated with the Greek shipping company Empire Navigation.
In a statement earlier, the Athens-based firm acknowledged losing contact with the vessel, which has a crew of 18 Filipinos and one Greek national. The company did not elaborate.
The ship came under the spotlight in February 2022 when the group United Against Nuclear Iran said it suspected the tanker carried oil from Iran’s Khargh Island.
For months, the ship sat in the South China Sea off the northeast coast of Singapore before suddenly sailing for the Texas coast without explanation. The vessel discharged its cargo to another tanker in August, which released its oil in Houston as part of a US Department of Justice order.
In September, Empire Navigation pleaded guilty to smuggling sanctioned Iranian crude oil and agreed to pay a $2.4m (£1.9m) fine over a case involving the tanker.

Source : Sky News