Iran said Thursday its forces attempted to intercept an oil tanker it alleged had been involved in a collision, after the US Navy accused its Iranian rivals of trying to seize the vessel.
The US military said on Wednesday that it had blocked two attempts by the Iranian navy to seize commercial tankers in international waters off Oman, including one case in which the Iranians fired on the tanker.
The maritime services in Iran said one of the two tankers, the Bahamian-flagged Richmond Voyager, had collided with an Iranian vessel, seriously injuring five crew members, according to state news agency IRNA.
They said the collision had occurred on Tuesday and that it damaged and caused the flooding of the Iranian vessel.
“The Richmond Voyager continued on its way, regardless of international maritime rules and regulations,” IRNA said, adding a court order had been issued for Iran’s navy to seize the tanker.
The news agency said “the offending oil tanker was identified” on Wednesday and pursued by the Iranian navy but that it ignored warnings and changed course before entering Oman’s territorial waters.
Iran said it had referred the matter to the “friendly” Sultanate of Oman, which has mediated talks between the Islamic republic and the United States, and that it was seeking the vessel’s seizure.
On Tuesday, the US military said it had also foiled an Iranian attempt to seize the Marshall Islands-flagged TRF Moss three hours before the incident involving the Richmond Voyager.
In both cases, the Iranians departed after a US destroyer appeared on the scene, the US Central Command said in a statement.
In April, Iran seized two tankers within a week in regional waters.
In one case, helicopter-borne Iranian navy commandos abseiled onto the deck of a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker, the Advantage Sweet, in the Gulf of Oman.
There has been a spate of such incidents since 2018, when then US president Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic, sending tensions soaring.
Talks aimed at reviving the accord have stalled.