U.S. Navy says Iran tried to seize two oil tankers, fired on one
The U.S. Navy prevented Iranian warships from seizing two oil tankers in international waters near Oman on Wednesday, according to an American military official.
At about 1 a.m. local time, an Iranian navy vessel approached a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker, the TRF Moss, that had just transited the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranians appeared to be attempting to board and seize the tanker, according to the official, but when the Navy moved the destroyer USS McFaul to the scene, the Iranian ship changed course and left.
Three hours later, another Iranian navy vessel approached a second tanker, the Richmond Voyager, that had sailed from the United Arab Emirates through the Strait of Hormuz. The tanker issued a distress call after the Iranian ship allegedly tried to get it to stop.
The Iranian navy appeared to be attempting to board and seize the tanker. According to the official, the Iranians were ordering the tanker to stop so they could board and presumably seize the oil, which was headed to the United States.
The U.S. moved the USS McFaul to the scene and also dispatched an MQ-9 drone, which shot video of the Iranian vessel firing small arms rounds at the tanker from about 1 nautical mile away, according to the official.
The rounds struck near the crew living area, inflicting minor damage, but no one was injured, according to the official. When the USS McFaul arrived, the Iranian ship left, according to the official.
“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,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “We remain vigilant and ready to protect navigational rights in these critical waters.”