US Navy Intervenes As Iranian Vessel Fires Shots In Attempt To Seize Tankers

(Photo by achary Pearson- U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The U.S. Navy prevented Tehran from seizing two commercial oil tankers off the coast of Oman Wednesday after the Iranian vessels fired multiple shots at one of the targeted tankers, it said in a statement.

An Iranian ship bore down on the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker TRF Moss at 1:00 a.m. local time Wednesday but fled when the guided missile destroyer USS McFaul arrived on scene, the U.S. Fifth Fleet said in a statement. Three hours later, the McFaul received another distress call from the Bahamian-flagged oil tanker Richmond Voyager in the same area, being hounded by another Iranian naval vessel firing “multiple, long bursts from both small arms and crew-served weapons,” according to the Fifth Fleet.

The McFaul traveled at “maximum speed” toward the Richmond Voyager, according to the statement. The second Iranian ship came within one mile of its target. (RELATED: Iran Accuses US Sub Of Threatening Territorial Waters, Says Its Navy Forced It To Surface)

“Richmond Voyager sustained no casualties or significant damage. However, several rounds hit the ship’s hull near crew living spaces. The Iranian navy vessel departed when McFaul arrived,” the statement read. Both events occurred in international waters near Oman.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the entire [U.S. Naval Forces Central Command] team, especially the exceptional effort by the McFaul crew, for immediately responding and preventing another seizure,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet said. “We remain vigilant and ready to protect navigational rights in these critical waters.”

U.S. oil giant Chevron controls the Richmond Voyager and confirmed that the tanker was behaving according to procedure and the crew survived the event without danger, according to Reuters.

Authorities in Tehran have not acknowledged or responded to the incident, the outlet reported.

Surveillance drones and aircraft, including the MQ-9 Reaper and P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, assisted in the operation, the statement said.

“Since 2021, Iran has harassed, attacked or seized nearly 20 internationally flagged merchant vessels, presenting a clear threat to regional maritime security and the global economy,” the 5th Fleet said.

In June, Iran seized 2 foreign oil tankers, according to Reuters. The seizures came after U.S. Naval forces and partner navies bumped up patrols in the Strait of Hormuz between Oman and Iran, which serves as the gateway for roughly a fifth of the world’s sea-transmitted oil supply.

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