Since 2021, "Iran has harassed, attacked or seized nearly 20 internationally flagged merchant vessels", according to the U.S. Navy.
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 early hours of May 3, 2023, are seen in this screenshot of a video shot provided by U.S. Navy on May 3, 2023. U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet/Handout via REUTERS.
Stop Iran Now Via Reuters and Washington Free Beacon
Iran's Revolutionary Guards "forcibly seized" a commercial ship in international waters in the Gulf on Thursday, a U.S. Navy spokesperson said.
The U.S. Navy had monitored the situation and decided not to make any further response, U.S. 5th Fleet spokesperson Commander Tim Hawkins said.
British maritime security company Ambrey said it was aware of an attempted seizure by Iranian forces of a small Tanzanian flagged tanker, around 59 nautical miles northeast of the Saudi Arabian port city of Dammam.
"Iran regularly intercepts smaller tankers it suspects of smuggling oil," the company added in a note.
About a fifth of the world's supply of seaborne crude oil and oil products passes through the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint between Iran and Oman, according to data from analytics firm Vortexa.
The U.S. Navy said on Wednesday that it had intervened to prevent Iran from seizing two commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman, in the latest in a series of attacks on ships in the area since 2019.
In video of the Wednesday attack shared by the U.S. Navy, an Iranian warship is seen opening fire on an oil tanker. The Iranian vessel gave up the chase when a U.S. guided missile destroyer arrived in the area.
"U.S. forces remain vigilant and ready to protect navigational rights of lawful maritime traffic in the Middle East’s critical waters," Hawkins said.
Iran said on Thursday it had a court order to seize one of the tankers sailing in Gulf waters on Wednesday after it collided with an Iranian vessel. The vessel, the Bahamas-flagged Richmond Voyager, was managed by U.S. oil major Chevron.
Tehran seized two other tankers in May including the Marshall Islands flagged Advantage Sweet, which had been chartered by Chevron.