According to Iran’s maritime authority, it confiscated a tanker owned by the U.S. energy company Chevron because the tanker caused damage to an Iranian vessel on Wednesday, July 5, in the Persian Gulf and then illegally rerouted to the territorial waters of Oman.
On Thursday, Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, PMO, released a statement saying that the Richmond Voyager broke basic international maritime laws when it escaped the scene of a collision after colliding with an Iranian vessel. The incident happened on Wednesday in international waters off of southern Iran.
According to the statement, five people were seriously injured when the Bahamas-flagged tanker collided with an Iranian ship with seven crew members on board. The Iranian vessel immediately began flooding.
The PMO reported that Iranian Navy forces began seizing the tanker with a court order and a request from the damaged ship’s owner.
“The ship rerouted and entered the territorial waters of Oman without heeding warnings and cautions issued by the Iranian Navy,” the PMO statement read. It added that Omani authorities had been informed of the incident’s details by Iran. The tanker was being seized because of violations against international maritime laws.
On Wednesday, the day before the PMO statement was made, the U.S. Navy allegedly sent the USS McFaul, a guided-missile destroyer, to prevent the Richmond Voyager from Iranian seizure. The PMO statement didn’t include any details of the U.S. Navy being involved in the incident.
On Thursday, the U.S. Navy said a separate incident was being monitored in the Persian Gulf at the time when naval forces of the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, IRGC, confiscated a commercial vessel that was allegedly involved in smuggling.
There has yet to be a comment from the IRGC regarding the U.S. Navy’s claim. However, Iran’s navy forces and coast guard regularly seize ships believed to be involved in smuggling fuel in southern Iran’s international waters.
Tehran seized two other tankers in May including the Marshall Islands flagged Advantage Sweet, which had been chartered by Chevron.
Since 2021, “Iran has harassed, attacked or seized nearly 20 internationally flagged merchant vessels”, the U.S. Navy said this week.