Way past time to introduce Iran’s ‘Navy’ to Davy Jones!!!
- The US Central Command posted a grainy black and white video of the seizure
- The video shows the Navy descending and fast-roping onto the vessel’s deck
- US military source said the MT Wila was held for five hours before being released
Iranian special forces boarded an oil tanker and seized it for hours near the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the US.
The US Central Command posted a grainy black-and-white video online showing a helicopter hovering low over the Liberian-flagged MT Wila.
The Iranian Navy allegedly then descended and were seen fast-roping on the deck of the vessel, whose last position appeared to be off the eastern coast of the UAE near the city of Khorfakkan.
The Iranian navy held the vessel for five hours before eventually releasing it on Wednesday, a US military source said.
Two other Iranian naval vessels took part in today’s seizure, the Central Command said.
No distress calls were made from the Wila before, during or after the seizure, the official said.
The helicopter involved appeared to be a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King, which only Iran’s navy operates.
The waters where the ship was boarded, near the Strait of Hormuz, are a chokepoint for a third of the world’s seaborne oil.
The escalation of Iran-US tensions in the last year over America’s unilateral withdrawal from its 2015 nuclear deal saw ships mysteriously attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized in the strait.
Tankers sailing in the Middle East became targets, particularly near the strait, the Persian Gulf’s narrow mouth.
Suspected limpet mine attacks – that the US blamed on Iran – targeted several tankers.
Iran denied being involved, though it did seize several tankers.
A black-and-white screenshot from video released by the U.S. military, allegedly shows Iranian forces members fast-roping onto the civilian tanker
The Iranian navy handles all operations in the Gulf of Oman on the eastern side of the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of all traded oil passes.
The US military did not offer any reason why Iran seized the vessel.
The Wila’s registered owner is a Liberian firm called Bandit Shipping, managed by Greek firm IMS SA, UN records show.
The ship had been off Khor Al Zubair, Iraq, in early July before it travelled near Dubai and later Khorfakkan, where it has been for around a month, according to data firm Refinitiv.
Private maritime intelligence firm Dryad Global said it suspected two other ships had been harassed by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in the Persian Gulf over the last week as well, based on the ships’ behaviour.
In July, a US-sought oil tanker was ‘hijacked’ off the coast of the UAE after allegedly smuggling Iranian crude oil.
The vessel later ended up back in Iranian waters, suggesting Iran seized the vessel.