Aerial view of a tanker.
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An oil tanker was boarded by armed people close to the Gulf of Oman on Thursday and appeared to alter course towards Iranian waters, in line with the U.Ok. Marine Commerce Operations.
The UKMTO reported on social media that an unnamed ship was boarded by 4 or 5 unauthorized folks early Thursday at 50 nautical miles east of Sohar, Oman.
“Unauthorised boarders are reported to be carrying army fashion black uniforms with black masks,” the UKMTO stated, including that the vessel “has altered course in direction of Iranian territorial waters and communications with the vessel have been misplaced.”
TankerTrackers.com recognized the vessel because the St. Nikolas, beforehand often called the Rajan, which was beforehand concerned in an incident of allegedly violating U.S. sanctions in 2022.
A media spokesperson for Empire Navigation, which manages the St. Nikolas, informed CNBC that it misplaced contact with the vessel on Thursday, however couldn’t verify an unauthorized boarding. The vessel was en path to Turkish port Aliaga after loading crude from the Iraqi Basrah Oil Terminal and was staffed by 18 Philippine and one Greek crew members.
It was not instantly clear who boarded the vessel. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have beforehand seized ships close to the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman and used them for political leverage.
The St. Nikolas has beforehand been concerned in a dispute between Iran and the U.S.
In October, Empire Navigation stated it resolved a violation of U.S. sanctions with the U.S. Division of Justice, which decided that the vessel, then often called Rajan, loaded sanctioned Iranian oil between January and February 2022 by means of a ship-to-ship switch close to Singapore. As a part of the fallout, Empire Navigation transported the sanctioned cargo to Houston, the place it may very well be forfeited to the DoJ.
Thursday’s incident is the newest in a sequence of Purple Sea assaults, with Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi motion focusing on business vessels and compounding the maritime danger of a high traffic commerce route. The Houthi say they’re finishing up their exercise in retaliation for Israel’s warfare within the Gaza Strip.