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12° Nicosia,
17 June, 2024
 
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Iranian navy confirms seizure of Greek-owned tanker in Gulf of Oman

Marshall Islands-flagged tanker seized near Sohar, Oman, raises questions amid conflicting reports on its identity and ownership.

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Iran's navy has claimed responsibility for the seizure of the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker St Nikolas in the Gulf of Oman, as reported by Iranian media. The vessel, seized by the United States last year for transporting Iranian oil, was reportedly commandeered by gunmen near Sohar, Oman. Its AIS tracking system was disabled as it headed for the Iranian port of Bandar-e-Jask.

"Iranian Army Navy announced the seizure of a US oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman by court order," stated Iranian state media. However, it remains unclear why the Iranian media identified the ship as American.

Previously known as "Suez Rajan," the St Nikolas was seized by the United States in 2023 due to sanctions, with Washington alleging that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) attempted to smuggle Iranian oil to China, violating US sanctions.

Currently owned by the Athens-based shipping company Empire Navigation, the tanker lost contact at around 06:30 Athens time. The vessel is crewed by 19 members, including 18 Philippine nationals and one Greek. The company is actively working to re-establish communication with the "St. Nikolas."

Loaded with approximately 145,000 tonnes of crude oil in Bashr, Iraq, in the previous days, the tanker was en route to Aliyaga in Turkey via the Suez Canal.

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Cyprus  |  Iran  |  shipping

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