The US Navy says it stopped Iran from seizing tankers in the Gulf Ship’s crew

Reuters

By Lisa Barrington and Jonathan Saul

DUBAI, July 5 (Reuters) – The US Navy said it intervened on Wednesday to prevent Iran from seizing two commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman – the latest in a string of seizures or attacks on vessels in of the region since 2019.

Chevron said one incident involved the Richmond Voyagera very large crude oil carrier managed by the US oil giant and the crew on board were safe.

An Iranian Navy ship fired shots during the second seizure attempt, said Timothy Hawkins, spokesman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

Both incidents occurred in waters between Iran and Oman.

At the time, Hawkins did not say how the US Navy prevented the ships from being seized, nor did he provide any further information. Details of the second ship involved in the incident were not initially clear.

British maritime security firm Ambrey said a warship carrying a multinational naval task force was in the area at the time and urged the Iranian Navy to stop “harassing” one of the merchant vessels.

The Iranian state news agency IRNA said on Wednesday that the Iranian authorities had not yet commented on the matter.

Since 2019, there have been a number of attacks on shipping in strategic Gulf waters amid tensions between the US and Iran.

Iran seized two oil tankers within 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 flows through the Strait of Hormuz, a bottleneck between Iran and Oman, according to data from analytics firm Vortexa.

Refinitiv vessel tracking data shows the Richmond Voyager had previously docked at Ras Tannoura in eastern Saudi Arabia before Wednesday’s incident in the Gulf of Oman.

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

“The ship is functioning normally. “The safety of our crew is our top priority,” said the spokesman.

The Richmond Voyager departed the Gulf with Singapore as its destination, Refinitiv ship tracking showed.

Leading shipping registries including the Marshall Islands and Greece have warned of the threat to merchant shipping in the Gulf, including the Strait of Hormuz, in recent weeks.

Another point of tension was the US seizure of a cargo of Iranian oil on board a tanker in April as part of a sanctions enforcement operation, sources told Reuters.

That vessel, the Marshall Islands-flagged Suez Rajan, is moored outside the US Gulf of Mexico terminal in Galveston awaiting unloading, according to Refinitiv vessel tracking.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington and Jonathan Saul; Additional reporting by Dubai Bureau and Rami Ayyub in Washington; Editing by Jason Neely and David Holmes)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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