4 Iranian Tankers Seized By The USA; Largest Seizure In History
Drama unfolded near the Strait of Hormuz last Friday when the U.S has seized the cargo of 4 Iranian oil tankers en route to Venezuela, sending a strict signal that the U.S Government meant action when it imposed sanctions on both Iran and Venezuela.
The move sent shockwaves through Tehran and Caracas, after an estimated 1.116 million barrels of petroleum onboard the Liberian-flagged M/T BELLA, M/T BERING, M/T PANDI and M/T Luna were seized. The Greek companies linked to the vessels in question are IMS SA, Bandit Shipping Co, Palermo SA, Paladine Maritime Inc, Vienna Ltd, and Rifia Shipping Co. The seized cargo is reported to be en route to Houston.
None of the vessels can be traced via Automatic Identification System at the moment. M/T BELLA and M/T BERING turned off their AIS at the beginning of May 2020. M/T PANDI and M/T Luna were last seen via AIS in the first half of July 2020
The U.S, via its Justice Department, stated that the ‘critical’ operation in the Strait of Hormuz had been executed with assistance from ‘foreign partners’, possibly hinting at Saudi Arabia.
Unofficial reports noted the absence of military force in the seizure. Reportedly, the shipowners were merely threatened with sanctions by the US government, who then surrendered the cargo to US officials.
After the U.S President, Donald Trump designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist outfit, the Strait of Hormuz has been abuzz with tanker seizures and rising tensions among the two countries.
This act marks the U.S government’s largest fuel shipment seizure in history.
Two days before, the US claimed Iran had briefly seized the Liberian-flagged oil tanker WILA in the Strait of Hormuz, before releasing it again. FleetMon reported on the incident.
Source: fleetmon.com, August 18, 2020.