The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran (popular as the IRGC) has seized two oil tankers allegedly smuggling over 1.5 million litres of fuel into the waters of the Persian Gulf.
These tankers were flying flags of Tanzania and Panama. They were held by the IRGC Navy, per Iranian media’s quote of Adm. Mohammad-Sharif Shirali, the deputy commander of the Third Naval Zone of the IRGC Navy.
He said that the 37-member crew on the vessels was handed to the judicial authorities for legal procedures.
The official, offering the details of the operation, mentioned that the IRGC Navy was stationed at the Mahshahr Port based in the southern Khuzestan province for the last two days, monitored the foreign oil rankers closely, and seized them eventually following judicial orders.
Iran’s naval forces, on several occasions over the recent years, have successfully seized foreign-flagged vessels sailing in the Persian Gulf for smuggling fuel or violating maritime rules.
This year, around July, a Bahamas-flagged oil tanker dubbed the Richmond Voyager was also seized after it ran into a vessel belonging to Iran in the Sea of Oman located in the southern Hormozgan province.
Following the incident, the US Navy issued a statement saying it sent a guided-missile destroyer named the USS McFaul on receiving a distress call from the tanker flying the flag of Bahamas after relevant Iranian authorities asked this tanker to stop and started firing shots at it.
The incident took place less than two months after the IRGC successfully seized a tanker with a flag of Panama in the waters of the Strait of Hormuz, referring to it as a “violator.”
Prior to that, a Marshal Island-flagged oil tanker was also held by Iran’s army and directed to the waters of Iran to the Sea of Oman after an encounter with a vessel of Iran.
Pertinently, the incidents took place when there were heightened tensions between the US and Iran after the Pentagon declared the deployment of its advanced amphibious warships and an expert Marine expeditionary group to the Persian Gulf to secure the shipping lanes.
Last month, amid rising tensions, the IRGC Navy reportedly released footage of an encounter between the country’s speedboats and a US helicopter carrier passing in the Strait of Hormuz.
It came a year after the IRGC successfully towed away one unmanned US vessel in the waters of the Persian Gulf, stating it had been done to make sure there was safety in shipping lanes.
References: Business Insider Africa, AA
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