Britain’s Maritime Trade Operations has accused Iranian-backed forces of seizing an oil tanker in the Gulf off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.
The maritime security agency has initially reported the incident as a “potential hijack” and advised ships to exercise extreme caution due to the incident around 60 nautical miles east of the UAE’s Fujairah emirate.
Maritime security analysts at Dryad Global and Aurora Intelligence identified the endangered ship as the Panama-flagged Asphalt Princess.
The MarineTraffic website categorized the vessel as an asphalt and bitumen tanker and is traveling to Sohar, a port on Oman’s northern coast.
The UK Foreign Office released a statement saying that it is “urgently investigating” the incident.
A spokesperson for the US state department said it was “too early to offer a judgment” on the incident.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have denied that Iranian forces or allies were involved in action against any ship off the UAE coast.
Abolfazl Shekarchi, Iran’s senior armed forces spokesman, denounced reports of maritime incidents and hijacking in the Gulf area as “a kind of psychological warfare and setting the stage for new bouts of adventurism.”
The latest incident came shortly after an Israeli-managed tanker off the Omani coast was attacked last week, killing two crew members. The United States, Israel, and Britain blamed Iran which denied responsibility for the event.
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