Iran claims it had 'court order' to seize US oil tanker in Gulf of Oman

Incident in Strait of Hormuz triggered latest stand-off between Tehran and US Navy

Iran tried to seize two oil tankers in Strait of Hormuz

Iran tried to seize two oil tankers in Strait of Hormuz
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Tehran claims it had a court order to seize a US-managed vessel that its navy shot at off Oman on Wednesday.

An Iranian coastguard agency told state-run media on Thursday that the incident in the Strait of Hormuz was triggered by a collision between an oil tanker and an Iranian vessel, contrary to the US version of events.

The Richmond Voyager, managed by the oil company Chevron, collided with an Iranian vessel and the navy had a court order to seize it, the Maritime Search and Rescue Centre of Iran's Hormozgan Province told Irinn news agency.

It claimed five people were “seriously injured” on the Iranian ship following the collision, which caused flooding on board. It said the tanker did not stop.

The Chevron ship was shot at by Iran's navy and sent numerous distress signals before the US navy prevented the ship from being commandeered.

A US Navy statement on Wednesday made no reference to a collision or injuries.

It is the latest confrontation between Iran and the US in Gulf waters since 2019.

Iran has seized at least five commercial vessels in the past two years amid heightened tension with Washington.

In May, it seized two tankers in a single week and has been accused of holding a vessel as a “bargaining chip” over a payment dispute.

The US Navy's central command released footage of the attempted seizures on Wednesday, showing the Iranian navy vessel firing shots at the Richmond Voyager, which tanker websites showed had sailed from Khor Fakkan in the UAE for Singapore.

The ship sustained no casualties or damage but “several rounds hit the ship’s hull near crew living space”, the US Navy said on Wednesday.

“Since 2021, Iran has harassed, attacked or seized nearly 20 internationally flagged merchant vessels, presenting a clear threat to regional maritime security and the global economy,” it added.

Iranian state media accused the vessel of ignoring international maritime rules after the collision.

“The follow-up for the seizure of this oil tanker continues and the case of this violation of international rights and laws is still open,” IRNA news agency said.

Iran's seizure of international tankers near its waters is part of a political game, experts previously told The National.

“It’s a very difficult and unfortunate situation in which actors are making a point about various political issues and ships are used as a pawn in this,” said Chris Oliver, maritime director at the International Chamber of Shipping in London

Updated: July 06, 2023, 10:22 AM