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US Navy says Iranian Revolutionary Guard fast attack boats ‘harassed’ vessel in Strait of Hormuz

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United States Navy said Monday that its sailors and the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy came to the aid of a ship in the crucial Strait of Hormuz after Iranian Revolutionary Guards attacked it. “harassed”.

Three fast-attacking Guards ships with armed troops on board approached the merchant vessel at close range on Sunday afternoon, the U.S. Navy said in a statement. He offered black-and-white images he said came from a US Navy Boeing P-8 Poseidon, which showed three small vessels in close proximity to the commercial vessel.

The US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul and the Royal Navy’s frigate HMS Lancaster responded to the incident, with the Lancaster launching a helicopter.

“The situation deescalated about an hour later when the merchant vessel confirmed that the fast attack craft had left the scene,” the Navy said. “The merchant vessel continued through the Strait of Hormuz without further incident.”

The Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, sees 20% of the world’s oil transit.

Although the Navy has not identified the vessel involved, MarineTraffic.com vessel tracking data analyzed by The Associated Press showed that the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Venture erratically altered course while that he was crossing the strait at the time of the incident. Its location also matched information about the incident provided by the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, a British military operation overseeing traffic in the area. The ship also looked similar to images released by the Navy.

The vessel’s registered handler, Trust Bulkers of Athens, Greece, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iranian state media and the Revolutionary Guards did not immediately acknowledge the incident. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This latest incident comes after a series of maritime incidents involving Iran following the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018.

The alleged US seizure of the Suez Rajan, a tanker linked to a US private equity firm suspected of transporting sanctioned Iranian crude off the coast of Singapore, likely prompted Tehran to recently seize the Islands-flagged tanker Advantage Sweet Marshall. This vessel was transporting Kuwaiti crude oil for energy company Chevron Corp. of San Ramon, California.

Although authorities did not acknowledge the seizure of the Suez Rajan, the vessel is now off the coast of Galveston, Texas, according to ship tracking data analyzed by the AP.

Meanwhile, Iran separately seized the Niovi, a Panamanian-flagged tanker, as it left a dry dock in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, bound for Fujairah on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates. Although it is not carrying any cargo, data from S&P Global Market Intelligence seen by the AP showed that the Niovi in ​​July 2020 received oil from a vessel known at the time as Oman Pride.

In August 2021, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned the Oman Pride and others associated with the ship for being “involved in an international oil smuggling ring” that supported Quds Force, the Guard’s expeditionary unit. which operates across the Middle East. Purported emails posted online by Wikiran, a website that solicits leaked documents from the Islamic Republic, suggest that the cargo carried by the Niovi was sold to companies in China without permission.

Satellite images analyzed by the AP show these two ships anchored off Bandar Abbas, Iran.

The recent seizures have put new pressure on the United States, long the guarantor of the security of the Arab countries of the Gulf. The United Arab Emirates claimed last week that it had “withdrawn its participation” in a joint naval command called the Combined Maritime Forces, although the United States Navy said it was still part of the group. Meanwhile, the US military’s central command said on Saturday its chief had visited the region, met with Emirati leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and “discussed common regional security concerns as well as security partnerships between the United States and the United Arab Emirates”.

Commanders of the US, UK and French navies based in the Middle East last month also transited the Strait of Hormuz on Friday aboard a US warship, a sign of their unified approach to keeping the crucial waterway open after that Iran seized the two tankers.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.


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