Yesterday, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard detained a tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, in the second incident of its kind within a week, in the latest escalation of detentions or attacks on commercial ships in the Gulf waters, since 2019.
The US Fifth Fleet said that boats belonging to the “Revolutionary Guard” took the oil tanker “Niofi”, which flies the Panamanian flag, to the port of Bandar Abbas after it was detained in the Strait of Hormuz at dawn yesterday, when it was heading from Dubai to the UAE port of Fujairah off the Gulf of Oman.
In Iran’s first reaction, the judiciary-affiliated Mizan news agency said the Tehran prosecutor had declared that “the seizure of the oil tanker was by judicial order following a complaint from a prosecutor.”
The incident came hours after an oil tanker exploded in the Riau archipelago off Indonesia, while it was preparing to receive an Iranian oil shipment, and was on board another tanker, according to the “TankerTrackers” website, which specializes in tracking ship movements on “Twitter”.
Video recordings show smoke billowing and parts of the tanker flying out.
There was no comment from the Iranian authorities on the reports linking the detention of the tanker to circumventing the sanctions.
Six days before the incident, the Revolutionary Guard forces seized the oil tanker Advantage Suite, which flies the flag of the Marshall Islands in the Gulf of Oman, and is currently anchored in the port of Bandar Abbas. Maritime security firm Ambry said the tanker’s seizure was in response to the US seizure of an Iranian cargo.
Last week, the US Navy said in a statement that Iran had, during the past two years, “harassed or attacked 15 commercial ships flying international flags,” while it considered it actions “contrary to international law and disrupt regional security and stability.”
The Revolutionary Guard seizes a second oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz within a week