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Iran seizes large container ship MSC Aries in Strait of Hormuz

IRNA video screenshot MSC-Aries-Boarding.jpg
Iranian forces have taken control of a 15,000 teu container ship in the Strait of Hormuz and diverted it to Iran.

Iran’s state news agency IRNA said the vessel with links to Israel had been seized by the Revolutionary Guard and taken to Iranian waters. A video circulating online claims to show Iranian personnel boarding the ship from a helicopter. 

MSC confirmed in a statement that the vessel had been boarded by Iranian authorities in the morning of April 13 and her course diverted from the planned itinerary. “She has 25 crew onboard, and we are working closely with the relevant authorities to ensure their wellbeing, and safe return of the vessel,” said MSC.

The ship is chartered by MSC and owned by Gortal Shipping, a finance company associated with Zodiac Maritime, owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

"This was the first Israel-affiliated vessel boarded by Iran since the attempted boarding of a tanker in August 2021," Ambrey said in a threat circular. 

The operation comes at a time of increased tensions between Israel and Iran. Iran has threatened retaliation against Israel for the bombing earlier this month of its consulate in Syria. The US president has warned of an imminent attack against Israel. It is unclear whether the ship seizure is the retaliation the region has braced for.

Iran more strictly determines Israeli ownership than Houthis attacking vessels in the Red Sea, said Ambrey, but the risk of false targeting persists. UKMTO has advised vessels to transit the area with caution.