On Monday, the US Navy said its sailors and the Royal Navy came to the aid of a Greek shipping company-owned vessel in the Strait of Hormuz after Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats “chased” it.
Three Iranian speedboats carrying armed troops came within close range of the merchant vessel on Sunday afternoon, the US Navy said in a statement. The report cites black-and-white images taken from a US Navy Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft, showing three small boats approaching a merchant ship.
The US Navy guided missile destroyer USS McFaul and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster responded to the incident, with Lancaster launching a helicopter. “The situation defused about an hour later when the merchant ship confirmed that the speedboats had left the scene of the incident,” the Navy said in a statement. “The merchant ship continued transit through the Strait of Hormuz without further problems.”
The Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, carries 20% of the world’s oil. Although the Navy did not name the ship involved in the incident, vessel tracking data from MarineTraffic.com analyzed by the Associated Press showed that the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Venture was constantly changing course while moving through the strait at the time of the incident. Its location also matched information about the incident provided by the British military operation United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which controls traffic in the region. The ship also looks like images released by the Navy.
The vessel’s registered manager, Trust Bulkers of Athens, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Iranian state media and the Revolutionary Guards also did not confirm the incident. The Iranian Mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.
This latest case comes after a series of maritime incidents involving Iran following the US unilateral withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018. Greek shipowners most often suffer in them.
In 2022, for more than half a year, 2 Greek tankers were held hostage by Iran after the Greek coast guard, at the insistence of American partners, seized the Iranian tanker Lana. A similar incident occurred in early May 2023. US sources say confiscated Iranian oil on a tanker at sea as part of a self-proclaimed sanctions enforcement operation, and a few days later, Iran seized a Greek tanker in retaliation.