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16 June, 2024
 
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Greek tanker hijacked in Persian Gulf, heads towards Iranian port

Reports indicate a Greek seaman cadet on board; vessel previously central to Iran-U.S. crisis

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In a concerning development, shipping sources and the British Maritime Safety and Security Office (UKMTO) report the hijacking of a ship of Greek interests in the Persian Gulf, currently en route to an Iranian port. The vessel, identified as the oil tanker St. Nikolas, had a Greek seaman cadet on board, according to Kathimerini.

The Associated Press, citing reliable sources, discloses that the tanker, formerly at the center of tensions between Iran and the United States, was boarded by individuals in military uniforms in the Gulf of Oman at approximately 5:30 a.m. local time.

The ship's last sighting occurred before 9 a.m. as it exited the Persian Gulf, approximately 50 nautical miles east of Sohar. Private intelligence firm Ambrey reported that "four or five men in military clothing" boarded the vessel, covering surveillance cameras in the process.

The oil tanker, flying the flag of the Marshall Islands, is owned by the Greek shipping company Empire Navigation. While no further details are currently available, suspicions point towards Iran, given the ship's history as the "Suez Rajan" and its involvement in a lengthy dispute leading to the U.S. Department of Justice seizing 1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil.

Αναφορές για πειρατεία σε πλοίο ελληνικών συμφερόντων στον Περσικό Κόλπο-2

The UK Military Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) confirmed the incident's initiation in waters between Oman and Iran, a critical area for a fifth of global commercial oil transit. The UK military received a report from the ship's security officer, noting "unfamiliar voices over the phone" with the captain. Subsequent attempts to contact the vessel failed, and the boarding individuals were reportedly wearing "black military uniforms with black masks."

Marine Traffic Vesselfinder websites indicate the ship, chartered by Turkish refining company Tupras, was originally bound for Ali Agha port in Turkey from Basra, Iraq. However, Ambrey reports a new course towards the Iranian port of Bandar-e-Yasak, approximately 1,700 kilometers south of Tehran.

As the situation unfolds, concerns rise about potential disruptions to the smooth supply of crude oil and refined products in the Persian Gulf region, affecting Europe's energy needs. The incident highlights the complex geopolitical challenges in the region.

Source: Associated Press, UKMTO

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Cyprus  |  Greece  |  Iran  |  shipping RedSea

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