Satellite photos that were carefully analyzed by The Associated Press on Sunday reflect two oil tankers seized by Iran off one of its main port city’s coasts — the Strait of Hormuz.
The images shared by Planet Labs PBC reflected that the Niovi and Advantage Sweet were anchored south of Bandar Abbas close to a naval base in the Hormozgan province of Iran on Saturday.
The capture also represents the latest vessel seizure by Iran amid growing tensions with the West over its fast-advancing nuclear program, although it appears the two vessels might have been seized for various reasons.
Iran seized the Marshall Islands-flagged Advantage Sweet, which was staffed by a Russian and 23 Indians, on 27 April as it sailed in the waters of the Gulf of Oman.
Tehran further claimed that the vessel had struck another one. However, the tracking data for Advantage Sweet reflected zero erratic behavior on its journey.
Iran has also made claims in the past regarding vessel seizures to cover for vessels that are going to be taken to use as pawns in negotiations with the West.
The Advantage Sweet reportedly was loaded with Kuwaiti crude oil for an American energy major named Chevron Corp. of San Ramon, California, at the time of capture.
The Niovi, a tanker flying the flag of Panama, was reportedly seized on Wednesday by the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard of Iran as it departed from a dry dock in Dubai, the UAE, and set sail for Fujairah on the eastern coast of the UAE.
Iran has mentioned that it seized the vessel over an unspecified court order passed in Tehran.
The Greek Coast Guard mentioned that the Niovi was staffed by Filipino, Greek, and Sri Lankan sailors.
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