The US Navy says the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have deployed fast attack boats

Norman Ray

Global Courant

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — The US Navy said on Monday that its sailors and the British Royal Navy came to the aid of a ship in the crucial Strait of Hormuz after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards “harassed” it.

Three fast attack guard ships with armed troops on board approached the merchant ship at close range Sunday afternoon, the US Navy said in a statement. It offered black-and-white footage reportedly from a US Navy Boeing P-8 Poseidon overhead, showing three small craft close to the commercial vessel.

The United States Navy destroyer USS McFaul and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster responded to the incident, with the Lancaster launching a helicopter.

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“The situation escalated about an hour later when the merchant ship confirmed that the fast attack craft had left the scene,” the navy said. “The merchant ship continued to pass through the Strait of Hormuz without further incident.”

The Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, sees 20% of the world’s oil pass through.

Although the Navy did not identify the ship involved, ship tracking data from MarineTraffic.com, analyzed by The Associated Press, showed that the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Venture erratically veered course as it passed through the strait at the time of the incident . The location also matched information about the incident from the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, a British military operation that monitors traffic in the region. The ship also resembled the images released by the Navy.

The ship’s registered manager, Trust Bulkers of Athens, Greece, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iran’s state media and Revolutionary Guards did not immediately acknowledge the incident. The Iranian mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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This latest incident comes after a string of maritime incidents involving Iran after the US unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018.

The suspected US seizure of the Suez Rajan, a tanker affiliated with a US private equity firm that allegedly carried sanctioned Iranian crude off the coast of Singapore, may have prompted Tehran to recently capture the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Advantage Sweet. That ship was carrying Kuwaiti crude oil for energy company Chevron Corp. from San Ramon, California.

Although authorities have not acknowledged the seizure of the Suez Rajan, the ship is now off the coast of Galveston, Texas, according to ship tracking data analyzed by the AP.

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Meanwhile, Iran separately seized the Niovi, a Panamanian-flagged tanker, which was leaving a dry dock in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, bound for Fujairah on the UAE’s east coast. While there was no cargo on board, data from S&P Global Market Intelligence seen by the AP showed that in July 2020, the Niovi received oil from a ship then known as the Oman Pride.

The U.S. Treasury Department cleared the Oman Pride and others associated with the ship in August 2021 as being “involved in an international oil smuggling network” that supported the Quds Force, the Guard’s expeditionary unit operating in the Middle East. East operates. Alleged emails published online by Wikiran, a website that requests leaked documents from the Islamic Republic, suggest that cargo carried by the Niovi was being resold without authorization to companies in China.

Satellite images analyzed by the AP show those two ships were anchored off Bandar Abbas, Iran.

The recent seizures have put new pressure on the US, long the security guarantor for the Gulf Arab states. The United Arab Emirates last week claimed it had previously “withdrawn its participation” from a joint naval command called the Combined Maritime Forces, though the US Navy said it was still in the group. Meanwhile, the US Army’s Central Command said Saturday its chief visited the region, met with Emirati leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and “discussed shared regional security concerns, as well as security partnerships between the US and the UAE” .

Middle East-based commanders of the US, UK and French navies also sailed through the Strait of Hormuz aboard a US warship last Friday, a sign of their united approach to keeping the crucial waterway open after Iran seized the two seized oil tankers.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

The US Navy says the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have deployed fast attack boats

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