Iran hijacks oil tanker that had been seized by U.S.

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News January 11, 2024

Iranian naval forces on Thursday seized an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman that had previously been seized by the United States for transporting unauthorized Iranian cargo.

The hijacking incident was near another chokepoint: the Hormuz Strait between Oman and Iran.

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency report that the Iranian forces, acting under a court order, seized Marshall Islands-flagged tanker “St Nikolas.”

Tanker Trackers reported that the vessel, formerly known as the Suez Rajan, had been seized by the U.S. government last year for having transported a million barrels of Iranian oil in connection to a U.S. company.

Before being seized on Thursday, Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corp. had chartered the tanker, which was transporting 140,00 tons of Iraqi SOMO crude. The vessel was en route to Aliaga in western Turkey.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) authority reported the St. Nikolas was boarded by “4-5 armed unauthorized persons” about 50 miles east of Sohar, Oman.

“Unauthorized boarders are reported to be wearing military-style black uniforms with black masks. CSO reports that the vessel has altered its course towards Iranian territorial waters, and communications with the vessel have been lost,” UKMTO reported.

“We condemn this apparent seizure. The Iranian government should immediately release the ship and its crew,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Thursday during a White House press briefing. “These provocative and unacceptable actions need to stop. We’ll continue to work with our allies and partners to deter and confront the full range of Iran’s concerning and destabilizing behavior in close coordination, of course, with the international community.”

The incident comes after U.S. Navy warships shot down two dozen missiles and drones in the Red Sea in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding that the Iran-aligned Houthis end attacks on ships in the Red Sea and free the Japanese-operated Galaxy Leader that was seized last year.

Your Choice

Publishers and Citizen Journalists: Start your Engines