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Iran Detains Marshall Islands-Flagged Oil Tanker in Gulf of Oman, US Navy Reports

The US Navy confirmed that Iran seized a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker, the Advantage Sweet, in international waters in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. This event marks the latest in a series of seizures or attacks on commercial vessels in the Gulf since 2019.

Iranian state media reported that the Iranian army detained the tanker after it collided with an Iranian boat, injuring several crew members. The army statement noted, “Two members of the boat’s crew are missing and several were injured due to the collision of the ship with the boat.”

Refinitiv ship tracking data identified the Advantage Sweet as a Suezmax crude tanker, which had been chartered by Chevron and last docked in Kuwait. The ship’s destination was the US Gulf of Mexico port of Houston. Chevron stated that it is aware of the situation and is “in contact with the vessel operator with the hope of resolving this situation as soon as possible,” according to a spokesperson.

The vessel’s manager, Genel Denizcilik Nakliyati AS, a Turkey-based company, has not yet responded to requests for comment. The Marshall Islands Maritime Administrator acknowledged awareness of the situation and communication with the vessel’s owner/operator but declined to provide further comment.

The US Navy condemned Iran’s ongoing harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights in the region, stating that they pose a threat to maritime security and the global economy. The Navy reported that Iran had unlawfully seized at least five commercial vessels in the Middle East over the past two years.

After deploying a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to observe the situation, the US Navy confirmed that the Iranian navy conducted the seizure. Iranian authorities have not yet commented on the matter.

According to analytics firm Vortexa, approximately one-fifth of the world’s crude oil and oil products pass through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow passage between Iran and Oman through which the Advantage Sweet had traveled.

Maritime security company Ambrey reported that the vessel was boarded via helicopter and did not display any signs of evasive maneuvers before the incident. Munro Anderson of maritime security company Dryad suggested that Iran typically detains vessels for “leverage or signaling.”

The US Navy, with its Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, urged Iran to release the tanker immediately. The Advantage Sweet had issued a distress call during the seizure, according to the US Navy statement. The International Maritime Organisation shipping database lists the vessel’s owner as China-registered company SPDBFL No One Hundred & Eighty-Seven (Tianjin) Ship Leasing Co Ltd.

Source: btimesonline

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