IRGC Navy seizes ‘violator’ oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz; second such incident in a week

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy has seized an invading foreign oil tanker in the country’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz, the second such incident in less than a week.

The official IRNA news agency reported on Wednesday that a Panama-flagged oil tanker had been confiscated by the IRGC’s naval units in the strategic waterway near the southern port city of Bandar Abbas.

The Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet claimed in a statement that the Greek-owned tanker, going by the name of Niovi, was sailing from Dubai towards Fujairah, a port and oil terminal in the United Arab Emirates, when it was stopped by the IRGC Navy.

“A dozen IRGCN fast-attack craft swarmed the vessel in the middle of the strait at 6:20 a.m. (0220 GMT),” the statement said. “The IRGCN subsequently forced the oil tanker to reverse course and head toward Iranian territorial waters off the coast of Bandar Abbas, Iran.”

Iran’s Tasnim news agency also reported the seizure of the “violator” ship, but did not provide details on the reason behind its capture.

IRNA later cited Tehran’s Public Prosecutor as saying that the oil vessel had been impounded by the IRGC Navy following a complaint by a plaintiff and on a judicial order.

The seizure comes six days after Iran’s Navy seized a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker in the Sea of Oman. The oil tanker, named Advantage Sweet, had been involved in a maritime accident with an Iranian fishing craft, which resulted in the injury and missing of a number of its crew.

After the collision, the oil tanker attempted to flee the scene in serious breach of international laws and regulations, which require provision of medical treatment and supply of proper and sufficient medicine to seamen in case of sickness or injury.

The Iranian fishermen managed to issue a distress call long after recovering from the shock.

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