The US Navy says Iran has seized a possible smuggling ship in the Persian Gulf



CNN

The US Navy said Iran seized a merchant ship that may have been involved in smuggling while it was sailing in international waters in the Persian Gulf on Thursday.

It comes one day after Iran Try to capture two oil tankers It operates in the Gulf of Oman, but a US official stressed that the incidents are different, since the target of Thursday’s detention was most likely a smuggling vessel.

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards Navy ship forcibly seized the Nada 2 chemical tanker, a US official said. The US Navy monitored the situation, and after observing the crew’s behavior and verifying the ship’s history, the navy took no further action, the official said.

The official said the seized ship did not issue a distress call and was likely involved in smuggling.

Such ships often smuggle sanctioned Iranian oil to sell at a higher price abroad, the official said, but there was no way of knowing what this particular ship was carrying.

“Ultimately, US Naval Forces Central Command assessed the circumstances of this event and did not warrant a further response,” said Commander Tim Hawkins, a spokesman for US Naval Forces Central Command. “US forces remain vigilant and ready to protect the rights of navigation for lawful maritime traffic in the vital waters of the Middle East.”

A day earlier, the US Navy had intervened to prevent Iran from seizing two oil tankers in international waters in the Gulf of Oman. In the first incident early Wednesday morning, the US Navy observed an Iranian navy ship approaching an oil tanker.

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The guided missile destroyer USS McFaul headed to the scene, at which point the US Navy said the Iranian ship changed course and left the area.

But just hours later, a second Iranian navy ship approached another oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, hailing the vessel for stopping in what the US Navy described as a seizure attempt. The US Navy said that Iranian personnel opened fire with small arms towards the oil tanker, hitting the ship near the crew’s residence.

The tanker sent out a distress call, and the USS McFaul immediately went to the accident at full speed. As the American destroyer approached, the Iranian Navy ship changed course and left the scene.

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