It has been confirmed that at least one oil tanker has been hijacked by Iranian forces in the Gulf of Oman. The tanker, a Panamanian-registered ship by the name of Asphalt Princess, was boarded by armed men in the area of the Arabian Sea which leads to the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for about a fifth of the world’s seaborne oil exports.
Lloyds List Maritime Intelligence confirmed that the Asphalt Princess was boarded by armed men and re-routed.
British government sources have also confirmed that the ship was hijacked, noting that officials believe it was seized by nine armed men approximately 60 miles off the coast of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.
On August 3rd, Refinitiv ship tracking data indicated that at least five ships in the sea between the United Arab Emirates and Iran had updated their tracking status to “Not Under Command,” which typically indicates that the ship is unable to maneuver due to exceptional circumstances.
Iran, of course, is denying the incident. The terrorist-sponsoring nation’s revolutionary guard has referred to the allegations as a pretext for “hostile action” against Iran.
Nour News, which is an outlet that is affiliated with Iran’s top national security body, reported that a senior navy official said “the movement of commercial vessels is quite normal and no official naval sources or countries in the Persian Gulf have reported any incidents”.
Iran’s senior armed forces spokesman Abolfazl Shekarchi called reports of the hijacking “a kind of psychological warfare and setting the stage for new bouts of adventurism,” according to the Fars News Agency.
According to reporting from Reuters, “Tensions have simmered in the region after an attack last week on an Israeli-managed tanker off the Omani coast killed two crew members and was blamed on Iran by the United States, Israel and Britain.”