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Greek-managed Tanker Seized by Iran at Straight of Hormuz

Greek tanker Iran
Fast-attack crafts from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy swarming Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi as it transits the Strait of Hormuz. Credit: U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet.

A Greek-managed tanker was seized by Iran on Wednesday the US Navy announced and provided a dramatic photo of fast-attack crafts chasing the vessel.

The Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet of the U.S. Navy said the Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi was seized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) at 6:20 a.m. while passing through the narrow Strait of Hormuz.

In Iran’s first response, Tehran’s prosecutor announced that the oil tanker was seized on a judicial order following a complaint by a plaintiff, the judiciary’s Mizan news agency said. No further details were provided, Reuters reports.

The Niovi oil tanker seized on Wednesday had been traveling from Dubai toward the UAE’s Fujairah port when it was forced by IRGCN boats to change course towards Iranian territorial waters, the Navy said.

The Niovi last reported its position at 0231 GMT on Wednesday off the coast of Oman in the Strait of Hormuz with Fujairah as its destination, Refinitiv ship tracking data showed.

According to the International Maritime Organization shipping database, Niovi’s owner is Grand Financing Co, and the ship is managed by Greece-based Smart Tankers.

The incident comes after Iran seized a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker, the Advantage Sweet, last week in the Gulf of Oman.. That tanker is being held by Iranian authorities in Bandar Abbas, the Marshall Islands flag registry said on Tuesday.

Maritime security firm Ambrey has said it believed the Advantage Sweet’s seizure by Iran was in response to a recent seizure via a court order by the United States of an oil cargo aboard the Marshall Islands tanker Suez Rajan.

Iran seized two Greek tankers in 2022

In 2022 Iran seized two Greek-flagged ships in the Persian Gulf. The seizure happened during a dispute between the two nations about the fate of Iranian oil cargo on board a Russian-flagged tanker that was seized in Greece in April of that year.

Describing the incident, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that an Iranian navy helicopter landed on the Greek-flagged ship “Delta Poseidon,” which was sailing in international waters 22 nautical miles off the coast of Iran. Armed men then captured the ship’s crew, including two Greek citizens.

These acts are equal to piracy,” noted the Greek ministry in its announcement. Iran released the ships months later.

About a fifth of the world’s crude oil and oil products passes through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow choke point between Iran and Oman, according to data from analytics firm Vortexa, Reuters says.


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