Iran seized an oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday, the US Navy said, in the second such capture in less than a week.
The US Navy's Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, said in a statement that naval forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) swarmed the Panama-flagged Niovi vessel while it was en route to the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates after having departed Abu Dhabi. The vessel was forced to change course and head into Iranian territorial waters towards Bandar Abbas in what the US Navy described as an “unlawful seizure.”
“Iran’s actions are contrary to international law and disruptive to regional security and stability. Over the past two years, Iran has harassed, attacked or interfered with the navigational rights of 15 internationally flagged merchant vessels,” the Fifth Fleet added in its statement.
US Navy forces based in the Gulf region did not receive a distress call from the Niovi, but a US fixed-wing unmanned aircraft patrolling over the strait witnessed the IRGC seizure, spokesperson Cdr. Tim Hawkins told Al-Monitor.