DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The US Navy said Monday that its sailors and Britain’s Royal Navy have come to the aid of a ship in the Strait of Hormuz after it “harassed” Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
The US Navy said in a statement that three fast-attack patrol ships with armed soldiers on board approached the merchant ship at close range Sunday afternoon. It showed black and white photos that it said came from a US Navy Boeing B-8 Poseidon plane above it, which showed three small ships near the merchant ship.
The US Navy guided missile destroyer USS McFaul and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster responded to the incident with a Lancaster helicopter launch.
“The situation de-escalated after about an hour when the merchant ship 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 pass through it.
While the Navy did not identify the ship in question, ship-tracking data from MarineTraffic.com analyzed by the Associated Press showed that the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Venture erratically changed course while traveling through the strait at the time of the accident. Its location also matched information about the incident provided by UK Maritime Trade Operations, the British military operation that oversees traffic in the area. The ship also looks similar to photos released by the Navy.
The ship’s registered manager, Trust Bulkers of Athens, Greece, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Neither Iranian state media nor the Revolutionary Guards immediately acknowledged the incident. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This latest incident follows a series of maritime incidents involving Iran after the United States unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018.
The suspected US seizure of the tanker Suez Rajan, linked to a US private equity firm believed to have been transporting sanctioned Iranian crude oil off Singapore.He likely provoked Tehran’s recent seizure of the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Advantage Sweet. That ship carried Kuwaiti crude oil for energy company Chevron Corp. in San Ramon, California.
While authorities have not acknowledged the seizure of the Suez Ragan, the ship is now off the coast of Galveston, Texas, according to ship-tracking data analyzed by the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, the Panamanian-flagged tanker, Niofi, was separately detained by Iran as it left a dry dock in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.Heading to Fujairah on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates. Although no cargo was moved, data from S&P Global Market Intelligence seen by the AP showed that in July 2020 Niofi received oil from a ship then known as Oman Pride.
In August 2021, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the Oman Pride and others associated with the ship for being “involved in an international oil smuggling network” that supports the Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards’ reconnaissance unit that operates throughout the Middle East. Alleged emails posted online by Wikiran, a website that solicits leaked documents from the Islamic Republic, indicate that goods Niovi carries were sold to companies in China without permission.
Satellite images analyzed by the Associated Press show these two ships anchored off Bandar Abbas, Iran..
The recent seizures have put new pressure on the United States, which has long been the security guarantor of the Gulf Arab states. The UAE claimed last week that it had “withdrew its participation” from a joint naval command called Combined Maritime Forces, although the US Navy said it was still in the group. Meanwhile, the US Army’s Central Command said on Saturday that its commander had visited the region and met with Emirati leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and “discussed common regional security concerns as well as US-UAE security partnerships.”
Last month, the leaders of the US, British and French navies in the Middle East crossed the Strait of Hormuz on Friday aboard a US warship.referring to their unified approach to keeping the vital waterway open after Iran seized the two oil tankers.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.
“Subtly charming student. Pop culture junkie. Creator. Amateur music specialist. Beer fanatic.”