The Iranian Navy announced this Thursday the capture of an “American tanker” in the Sea of Oman, hours after the British Navy condemned the seizure of a ship by “unauthorized armed persons” in those waters.
“The Navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran announced the seizure of a US oil tanker in the waters of the Sea of Oman by court order,” the Iranian naval forces said in a brief statement broadcast by the Tasnim agency.
Iranian officials did not name the ship or provide further details about it.
The brief announcement came hours after the British Navy reported that a ship was boarded by “4-5 unauthorized armed persons at approximately 3.30 GMT” in an incident 50 miles northeast of Sohar, Oman.
The captured ship is the oil tanker “St. Nicholas” which was sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands and belongs to the Greek shipping company Empire Navigation.
According to Greek state agency AMNA, a total of 19 people were on board, including one of Greek nationality and 18 of Filipino nationality.
The ship in question – when it was still sailing under the name “Suez Rajan” – was involved in a years-long controversy in which the US Justice Department seized one million barrels of Iranian crude oil it was transporting.
According to AMNA, the ship loaded approximately 145,000 tons of oil in Basra, Iraq and its final destination was the city of Aliaga (Turkey), as it was chartered by Turkish state oil company Tupras.
However, according to a statement released by British maritime security company Ambre Analytics, the ship is now headed towards the Iranian port of Bandar-e-Jask.