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Iranian naval forces board tanker in Gulf of Oman

PortandTerminal.com, August 13, 2020

DUBAI – Iranian naval forces boarded an oil and chemical tanker in the Gulf of Oman.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) shared a video on Twitter, claiming that Liberian-flagged MT Wila was overtaken and boarded by an Iranian “Sea King” helicopter and two ships.

Initial reports indicated that the tanker was boarded 23 nautical miles NW of the Khor Fakkan Anchorage, south-east of the Strait of Hormuz, on 12 August, according to maritime security intelligence company Dryad Global.

Two tankers at sea
MT Wila’s current position is shown

The Iranian government did not immediately release any statements on the matter.

Although initial source reporting indicated that a US Sentinel call sign had received word that the vessel had been boarded, the ship was not detained, Dryad confirmed in an update.

“We can confirm that the MV WILA has not been detained by Iranian Naval forces. The boarding comes after two other vessels MT CHEMWAY ARROW and MT FREUD were potentially harassed earlier this week.”

Dryad added that Wila is believed to have entered UAE’s territorial waters around 1720 UTC and is currently showing at the Kfor Fakkan Anchorage.

What’s Iran up to?

Iranian Sea King Helicopter
U.S. Central Command reports that an Iranian Sea King Helicopter was used to board the vessel.

Dryad suggests that the MT WILA may have been targeted as a result of its previous links to Greek companies that were sanctioned by the US DoJ in June for their intended involvement in an Iranian Oil Shipment to Venezuela.

Greek-managed vessels have come to the fore in recent months following their willingness to trade oil exported from Iran to Venezuela. Such a move brought Greek-firms under international scrutiny, and in June of this year four vessels linked to Greek companies were blacklisted by the US.

Following this blacklisting, future shipments of crude oil from Iran which were to be carried by Greek-managed vessels were scrapped.

“In targeting this vessel, Iran has potentially sought to send a clear message to vessels which decide to renege on their willingness to partake in, or facilitate, economic activities linked to the nation.” (Dryad)

The vessel is also insured via the American Steamship Owner P&I Association adding an additional dynamic to the potential boarding.

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