Barely 24 hours after the United Nations Security Council demanded an end to Iranian-backed Houthi attacks on commercial shipping vessels, “six military men” boarded an oil tanker transiting the Gulf of Oman, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations organization (UKMTO).
Hours later Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said its navy had carried out the seizure “following an order from the Iranian court,” the semi-official Tasnim News Agency reported.
The vessel was taken to an Iranian port allegedly in retaliation for the United States confiscating the same vessel and its oil last year, according to the report.
“This tanker whose name was changed to St Nicholas and carrying oil in the Oman Sea was seized in retaliation for the theft of oil by the American regime, with an order from the judicial courts, and is being transferred to ports of the Islamic Republic to be delivered to the judicial authorities,” the IRGC said in its statement.
Earlier this week, US and UK military vessels shot down 21 ballistic missiles and explosive drones fired by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen at ships transiting the Red Sea.
Over the past several years, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) naval forces have also been involved in multiple maritime hijacking incidents as well.
The hijackers boarded the St. Nikolas oil and chemical tanker, sailing under the flag of Malta, at a location about 50 nautical miles east of Sohar in Oman, in the waters between Oman and Iran, not far from the United Arab Emirates.
According to the Ambrey intelligence firm, the hijackers covered the ship’s surveillance cameras while boarding the vessel.
There has been no comment from the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Oman or Iran, according to the Associated Press report quoted by the UK’s Daily Mail news outlet.