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Iran attempted early on Wednesday to seize two oil tankers near the world’s most important oil transit chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz, the U.S. Navy said.
“The Iranian navy did make attempts to seize commercial tankers lawfully transiting international waters,” Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, said, as carried by AP.
“The U.S. Navy responded immediately and prevented those seizures.”
Iran fired shots at one of the tankers, which did not result in casualties or major damage.
The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important oil transit chokepoint between Oman and Iran which connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman. The daily oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz are equivalent to about 21% of the daily petroleum liquids consumption worldwide.
Before Wednesday’s incident, the two most recent such incidents took place at the end of April and early May. A commercial oil tanker was seized by Iran on May 3 transiting the Strait of Hormuz.
A previous incident occurred six days earlier when the Iranian Navy seized Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker Advantage Sweet while it transited international waters in the Gulf of Oman. The oil tanker had departed the Mina Saud Port in Kuwait and was destined for Houston, Texas, after being commissioned by U.S. oil giant Chevron.
The U.S. 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, “is working with regional allies and partners to increase the rotation of ships and aircraft patrolling in and around the Strait of Hormuz following Iran’s recent unlawful merchant vessel seizures,” the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said in May.
“Iran’s unwarranted, irresponsible and unlawful seizure and harassment of merchant vessels must stop,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.
According to the Command, Iran has harassed, attacked, or interfered with the navigational rights of 15 internationally flagged merchant vessels over the past two years.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com