Iran Stops Oil Tanker in International Waters

  • The Dryad Global website reports that the ship was stopped and detained by Iranian forces after leaving the port of Khorfakan in the UAE.
  • According to the United States, the ship was sailing in international waters.
  • Iranian officials have not commented on the ship's seizure.

Centcom, the US headquarters in the Middle East and Central Asia, posted a video on its Twitter account reporting that Iranian forces had stopped and taken control of an oil tanker in international waters in the Persian Gulf. The ship was called “Villa,” and was flying the Liberian flag.

Reuters quoted a US official as saying that the ship was released after a temporary halt and said US forces had not intervened and had only observed it. Centcom wrote in a Twitter post published on Thursday morning that Iranian forces stopped  ship in international waters.

The Strait of Hormuz is a strait between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world’s most strategically important choke points. The strait is about 90 nautical miles (167 km) long, with a width varying from about 52 nautical miles (96 km) to 21 nautical miles (39 km).

Centcom explained that “Iranian regime forces” participated in the seizure of the ship with two Iranian Sikorsky Siking ships and two helicopters.

A video released by Centcom shows Iranian forces landing on the deck of a ship after helicopters approached. Centcom has tweeted that Iranian forces have stopped the ship “Villa” in international waters.

The Dryad Global website, which monitors ship traffic, reports that the ship was stopped and detained by Iranian forces after leaving the port of Khorfakan in the UAE.

Marine expert Michelle Weiss Bookman wrote in a Twitter post about the incident that the ship is owned by Greek companies. The expert also confirmed that the ship was sailing under the Liberian flag. The Iranian media and Iranian officials have not yet commented on the matter.

According to this expert, if this report is confirmed, it can be said that the tensions that took place in the region a year ago with the seizure of a British ship by Iranian forces have returned. Last summer, the Revolutionary Guards confiscated the British tanker Stena Impero, owned by a Swedish company and flying the British flag.

The incident came just two weeks after a British navy seized an Iranian tanker near the waters of Gibraltar. However, Iran had claimed that the Stena Impero had been seized due to maritime violations. The Islamic Republic of Iran later returned a British tanker seized in the Strait of Hormuz to Britain.

Iran Sent a Replica of an Aircraft Carrier to the Strait of Hormuz

The Associated Press at the end of the last month reported that the Islamic Republic sent a replica of an American-style aircraft carrier from Bandar Abbas to the Strait of Hormuz. The Islamic Republic intends to use the ship for combat operations, such as firing point-to-point missiles and land-to-sea defenses, the news agency said Monday, publishing several satellite images of the Iranian mock-up.

On 19 July 2019, Iran media reported that the Swedish owned but British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero had been seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Strait of Hormuz. On 27 September 2019 the Stena Impero departed from Iranian waters and made its way to Port Rashid in Dubai.

A photo released by the Associated Press shows the dummy aircraft carrier being first propelled by a fast boat and then towed by a ship from Bandar Abbas to the Strait of Hormuz. Satellite images show that 16 replicas of fighter jets are also stationed on the deck of the replica ship.

According to the Associated Press, the deployment of an Iranian replica in the Strait of Hormuz is particularly important in light of two issues: first, that tensions between Iran and the United States have peaked in recent weeks. About 20 percent of the Middle East’s oil exports pass through this strategic strait.

According to this news agency, the published images of the deployment of a replica of the cruiser in the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz show that the Revolutionary Guards intend to carry out a test operation to attack this replica. The IRGC navy conducted a similar maneuver in 2015. During the 2015 exercise, high-speed boats first attacked the cruise ship with machine guns and rockets, and then fired and destroyed surface-to-sea missiles.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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