The U.S. Navy announced Thursday that the Iranian navy assaulted and is holding captive an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman. According to reports from the Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, the tanker Advantage Sweet was assaulted by members of the Iranian Navy (IRIN) while en route to the United States. The Marshall Islands-flagged vessel was still being held by the Iranian military when the Fifth Fleet issued its statement.
The assault occurred around 1:15pm local time. According to the Fifth Fleet command, the attack by Iranian forces occurred while the tanker was sailing in international waters. At that time, the vessel's crew sent a distress signal. In its statement, the Navy command assures that it is monitoring the situation of the Advantage Sweet. The tanker departed Mina Saud, Kuwait, and was bound for Houston. According to maritime tracking portal Marine Traffic, the signal locates the tanker in the waters off Madha.
NAVCENT statement on Iran's unlawful seizure of a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Oman today: pic.twitter.com/EJxcsynA1m
— U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet (@US5thFleet) April 27, 2023
The U.S. Navy condemns the attack by Iranian forces, which it considers contrary to the rules of navigation in international waters. It calls on the Iranian government to release the oil tanker and cease such actions.
This is not the first time that the Iranian Navy has attacked or harassed foreign vessels and systems. Last February, Israel accused Iran of attacking an oil tanker in the same waters. Several U.S. Navy waterborne drones were also harassed by Iran. In the summer of 2022, an Iranian warship attempted to take several surveillance drones owned by the United States. The Fifth Fleet had to intervene to prevent it.