US Navy Blocks Iranian Attempt To Seize Oil Tankers

In an international showdown off the coast of Oman Wednesday, the U.S. Navy prevented Iran from seizing two commercial oil tankers after it fired several shots at one of the vessels.

According to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, an Iranian ship targeted the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker TRF Moss at about 1 a.m. local time. That aggressive action ended quickly, however, when the USS McFaul appeared ready to intervene.

That was not, however, the end of hostilities with the rogue state.

Just three hours later, another distress call from the Bahamian-flagged Richmond Voyager came in to the McFaul from the same area in international waters. This time, the U.S. vessel found the oil tanker being harassed by another Iranian ship.

The Fifth Fleet reported that the ship from Tehran launched several volleys of long bursts “from both small arms and crew-served weapons.” The Iranian attacker closed to within a mile of the Richmond Voyager.

The McFaul responded by traveling at “maximum speed” towards the targeted oil tanker, which took several hits near crew living quarters. No casualties or significant damages were reported.

Chevron officials later confirmed that they manage the Richmond Voyager. They noted that the crew was safe and the vessel was able to continue its mission as normal.

Iran has notoriously carried out a series of attacks on ships in the area since 2019. These aggressive actions coincided with a rise in tensions between the U.S. and Iran, and it was just over a month ago when Tehran seized two oil tankers.

State news agency IRNA said Wednesday that government officials had no comment on Wednesday’s incident.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said “the United States will respond to Iranian aggression together with our global allies and our partners in the Middle East to ensure the freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz and other vital waterways.”

The Navy added that Iran in the last two years had attacked or seized almost 20 internationally flagged merchant vessels operating in the Middle East. This, it said, posed “a clear threat to regional maritime security and the global economy.”

The narrow divide between Iran and Oman, the Strait of Hormuz, carries roughly one-fifth of the globe’s crude oil and oil products supply.