The US Navy said it responded and prevented the seizures. “The Iranian navy did make attempts to seize commercial tankers lawfully transiting international waters,” Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, confirmed in a statement. “The U.S. Navy responded immediately and prevented those seizures.” It was only the second tanker which was fired upon during the incident, leaving no casualties or major damage.
The Associated Press described the tanker which was fired upon as US managed, though Bahamas-flagged and Greek-owned: Ambrey, a maritime intelligence service, said the tanker that was fired upon was a Bahamas-flagged, Greek-owned, U.S. managed crude oil tanker transiting from the United Arab Emirates to Singapore. It said the firing of shots happened 28 nautical miles northeast of Muscat, the capital of Oman.
The US Navy has further described that in total Iran seized at least five commercial vessels over the course of the last two years, and in addition, there have been several harassment incidents of foreign ships reported.
In April, elite Iranian commandos raided a US-bound oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, swooping in on a helicopter. That tanker was Chinese-owned, and bound for Houston. But Tehran has sought to justify its actions by citing recent instances of Washington seizing its own oil on the high seas.
Currently, there’s a move in US Congress to toughen US action against Iranian ‘illegal’ crude exports: Several US senators backed the Biden administration’s move to seize Iranian oil tankers at Panama Canal, calling for more measures to stop the export of Iran’s crude.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) told Iran International’s Arash Aalaei he “applauds” the seizure and he “hopes they’ll have many more.” He added that this is a message to Iranians warning them that they cannot ultimately divert their oil and violate embargoes imposed on their oil trade. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) told us that he supports the Biden administration’s seizure of Suez Rajan tanker carrying Iranian crude oil, lauding it as “a very strong move.”
The Senator added: “Iranian aggression in many ways, including supplying drones to Russia to facilitate an illegal war in Ukraine, the behaviour of Iran both to its own people and beyond the borders, is getting worse and worse and worse.”