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Iran seizes second oil tanker in Gulf

US Navy Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy fast-attack craft swarm Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi as it transits the Strait of Hormuz
Iran has seized a second tanker in under a week in the area of the Strait of Hormuz.

A statement issued by Navcent Public Affairs, a unit of the Bahrain-based US Naval Forces Central Command said that on May 3 at approximately 6:20 a.m. local time, Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi was seized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) while transiting the Strait of Hormuz. said on its Twitter feed Wednesday that the “empty Greek-owned, Panama-flagged VLCC supertanker NIOVI (9292498) has been seized this morning by Iran's IRGCN.”’s website gave information citing the deadweight of the VLCC seized as 309,000 tons.

Official state news agency IRNA said that Tehran's Public and Revolution Prosecutor's office announced later on Wednesday that the Niovi oil tanker had been seized “because of a private complaint and a subsequent order by relevant judicial authorities.”

A previous incident occurred six days ago when the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy seized Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker Advantage Sweet while it transited international waters in the Gulf of Oman, Navcent said.

An official US Navy video showed up to 12 IRGCN skiffs swarming the tanker, apparently forcing it to alter course into Iranian waters.

“The oil tanker departed Dubai and was transiting from the Arabian Gulf toward the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates when a dozen IRGCN fast-attack craft swarmed the vessel in the middle of the strait. The IRGCN subsequently forced the oil tanker to reverse course and head toward Iranian territorial waters off the coast of Bandar ‘Abbas, Iran,” Navcent said.

“Iran’s actions are contrary to international law and disruptive to regional security and stability. Over the past two years, Iran has harassed, attacked or interfered with the navigational rights of 15 internationally flagged merchant vessels,” it added.

Last week, Siuezmax tanker Advantage Sweet was held in similar fashion. Deutsche Welle cited maritime security firm Ambrey to suggest that the seizure of Advantage Sweet was in response to a recent US seizure of an oil cargo aboard the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Suez Rajan, which had allegedly been smuggling sanctioned Iranian crude oil.

“Iran’s harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights in regional and international waters are contrary to international law and disruptive to regional stability and security. We join the international community in calling the Iranian Government and the Iranian navy to immediately release the ship and its crew,” US State Department spokesman Vidant Patel said.