According to a recent article by Bloomberg, Iran has hijacked a US oil tanker named St. Nikolas in the Gulf of Oman.
According to Bloomberg, which cites Iran’s semi-official Tasnim agency sources, Iranian naval authorities apprehended the tanker “St Nikolas,” which was flying the flag of the Marshall Islands, following a court ruling. According to the article, St. Nikolas is a “US oil tanker.”
Earlier, research firm TankerTrackers said, “Iranians have boarded today in the Gulf of Oman is the ST NIKOLAS.”
The tanker, carrying 140,000 tons of Iraqi SOMO oil, was chartered by Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corp. The ship was headed toward western Turkey, to Aliaga.
About 50 miles east of Sohar, Oman, “4-5 armed unauthorized persons” boarded a vessel, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) authorities.
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A military statement released by CENTCOM reported that US warships were directly targeted in the largest Houthi Red Sea missile attack, with a total of 24 projectiles fired.
“Unauthorized boarders are reported to be wearing military-style black uniforms with black masks. CSO reports that the vessel has altered its course towards Iranian territorial waters, and communications with the vessel have been lost,” UKMTO said.
The tanker “St Nikolas,” flying the flag of the Marshall Islands, is the one that was taken over, according to Bloomberg. As per an earlier source, the US captured St Nikolas last year while it was operating under a different name, “Suez Rajan,” to transfer unapproved cargo from Iran.
The tanker was carrying 145,000 tons of crude from the Iraqi port of Basra, according to Empire Navigation, the vessel’s operator, and it was traveling via the Suez Canal to Aliaga in western Turkey. It stated that there had been no communication with the vessel.
The Automatic Identification System (AIS) of St. Nikolas was turned off. This tracking system uses transceivers on ships to identify and locate vessels. By late Wednesday night, the last known position of the vessel was around 50 miles east of Sohar.
Another chokepoint, the Hormuz Strait separating Iran and Oman, was not far from the scene of the hijacking.
Bloomberg reported a 2% increase in London’s crude prices.
The incident occurred immediately after two dozen missiles and drones were shot down in the Red Sea by US Navy warships. The attack by the Houthis, who are backed by Iran, was described by the Associated Press as the “largest-ever barrage of drones and missiles targeting shipping in the Red Sea attack.”
Furthermore, the threat of violence escalating from the Red Sea to the Hormuz Strait has suddenly become a concern for the Pentagon’s Operation Prosperity Guardian mission, which aims to protect vital commercial maritime channels.