Iran seizes 2nd VLCC in the Strait of Hormuz

Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi was seized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) while transiting the Strait of Hormuz on May 3, the U.S. Navy said.

Image credit: US Navy

The 309,300 dwt VLCC, built in 2005, is owned by Liberia-based Grand Financing Co, on behalf of Greek Altomare, and managed by Smart Tankers.

“The oil tanker departed Dubai and was transiting from the Arabian Gulf toward the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates when a dozen IRGCN fast-attack craft swarmed the vessel in the middle of the strait. The IRGCN subsequently forced the oil tanker to reverse course and head toward Iranian territorial waters off the coast of Bandar ‘Abbas, Iran,” a navy statement reads.

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow waterway that connects the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. It is considered one of the most strategically important waterways in the world due to its location and the amount of oil that is shipped through it.

This is the second incident involving oil tankers being seized by Iranian forces. A previous incident occurred six days ago when the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy seized Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker Advantage Sweet while it transited international waters in the Gulf of Oman.

The reason behind the seizure remains unclear, however, media reports indicate that it might be a retaliation measure against the US-seized cargo of Iranian oil under a court order on board the Suez Rajan.

The Navy said that Iran’s actions are contrary to international law and disruptive to regional security and stability. As informed, over the past two years, Iran has interfered with the transit of 15 internationally flagged merchant vessels.