The US Navy says Iranian naval forces have seized a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, the latest in a series of seizures of commercial vessels in the area in the past years.
“Iran’s actions are contrary to international law and disruptive to regional security and stability,” the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said in a statement on April 27. “Iran should immediately release the oil tanker.”
Iranian officials did not immediately acknowledge the seizure.
The US statement said the Advantage Sweet issued a distress call while in international waters as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy seized the vessel.
Satellite tracking data for the vessel from MarineTraffic.com showed the tanker north of Oman’s capital, Muscat, on the afternoon of April 27. It came from Kuwait and listed its destination as Houston, Texas.
According to the International Maritime Organisation shipping database, the Advantage Sweet is owned by a China-registered company.
The 5th Fleet said that Iran has seized at least five commercial vessels in the Middle East over the past two years.
“Iran’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights in regional waters are a threat to maritime security and the global economy,” it added.
In November 2022, the Islamic Republic released two Greek-flagged tankers it had seized in the Persian Gulf in May.