ua en ru

Iranian military seizes oil tanker in Gulf of Oman

Iranian military seizes oil tanker in Gulf of Oman Oil tanker St. Nikolas (Photo:
Author: Daria Shekina

Iran's naval forces seized the oil tanker St. Nikolas flying the flag of Malta in the morning yesterday in the Gulf of Oman, reports Sky News.

The news agency notes that confirmation of the attack emerged after reports today, January 11, about armed individuals boarding the vessel.

On Thursday, Iran's state news agency IRNA acknowledged the seizure of the Iranian Navy's tanker in a published article. Although the ship was not identified, it was stated that the confiscation occurred as a result of a court decision.

Earlier, the St. Nikolas ship was involved in a dispute with the United States Department of Justice, leading to the confiscation of one million barrels of Iranian crude oil.

According to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKTMO), the incident of the ship's seizure occurred early in the morning, 50 miles off the coast of Oman.

According to the private investigative company Ambrey, "four to five armed persons" boarded the ship during the incident. They closed surveillance cameras during this time.

What is known about the captured tanker

Previously named Suez Rajan, the St. Nikolas ship is associated with the Greek shipping company Empire Navigation. In a previous statement, the Athens-based firm acknowledged the loss of contact with the tanker, which had a crew of 18 Filipinos and one Greek citizen.

In February 2022, the United Against Nuclear Iran group claimed to suspect the tanker of transporting oil from Iran's Harg Island.

For months, the ship remained in the South China Sea near the northeast coast of Singapore before heading to the coast of Texas (USA). In August, the ship unloaded cargo onto another tanker, which released its oil in Houston as per the U.S. Department of Justice's directive.

In September 2023, Empire Navigation admitted guilt in smuggling sanctioned Iranian crude oil and agreed to pay a $2.4 million fine in a case related to the tanker.

Seizures of Iranian oil tankers

Attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf began in 2019, but Iran increased such actions in the spring of 2023. In late April, Iranian naval forces seized an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman under the flag of the Marshall Islands.

Previously, another ship was seized, this time under the flag of Panama. The U.S. promised to react to such actions by Iran.

In the summer of 2023, it became known that the United States might deploy marine infantry to protect commercial oil vessels in the Strait of Hormuz from a possible Iranian attack.