On January 11, the Iranian navy boarded the US oil tanker St. Nikolas in the Gulf of Oman, which was transporting crude oil from Iraq to Turkey. The action is a kind of reprisal for the US seizing the identical warship over a year ago. The US-Iran saga continues.
With a crew of 19—18 Filipinos and one Greek—the tanker carried 145,000 metric tonnes of oil that was loaded at the Iraqi port of Basra and was travelling across the Suez Canal to Aliaga in western Turkey.
The event took place close to the Strait of Hormuz, which separates Iran and Oman. According to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), four to five armed people boarded a vessel roughly 50 nautical miles east of the Oman shore.
It was alleged that the invaders were dressed in black masks and clothes reminiscent of the military. The British maritime security company Ambrey claims that the tanker’s AIS tracking system was turned off as it approached the Iranian port of Bandar-e-Jask.
According to reports, the Greek shipowner Empire Navigation’s vessel St. Nokolas, flying the Marshall Islands flag, was cut off from communication with its owner, Tupras (TUPRS.IS), a Turkish oil refiner, on January 11 at approximately 6:30 in the Oman Seas. The business affirmed that it had purchased the cargo from SOMO, an Iraqi marketer.
The semi-official Iranian news outlet Fars cited a Navy statement. It stated, “After the theft of Iranian oil by the United States last year, Iran’s Navy captured the St. Nikolas tanker this morning with a legal order… It is travelling to ports in Iran.
In response, the US declared the conduct to be illegal. According to the Pentagon, Iranian soldiers forcibly boarded the St. Nikolas and caused it to veer towards Iranian territorial seas.
“There is absolutely no justification to seize it,” stated John Kirby, a spokesman for national security at the White House. They must move on from it.
Iran’s actions, according to the US Navy, are illegal under international law and jeopardise the stability and security of the marine environment.
In 2023, as part of an effort to implement sanctions, the US took control of St. Nikolas, also known as Suez Rajan. Back then, Iran had warned of a countermove.
In 2023, the US seized and confiscated about 980,000 barrels of Iranian crude oil from the Suez Rajan, now known as St. Nikolas. Washington had claimed that, in an attempt to circumvent US sanctions, the Revolutionary Guards were attempting to transfer illicit Iranian oil to China.
This incident occurs in the midst of the continuing hostilities in the Red Sea, where Yemen’s Houthis have assaulted commercial ships in an effort to support Hamas, the terrorist organisation that rejects Israel. According to reports, most of these instances have been happening southwest of the Arabian Peninsula, near the Bab al-Mandab Strait.
The US and the UK denounced the Houthis’ use of drones and missiles on the warships in the Red Sea on January 9.
As a result of Houthi attacks on foreign naval boats in the Red Sea, the US and UK, along with Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, have launched strikes against twelve Houthi targets in Yemen.