OAN’s Roy Francis
12:11 PM – Wednesday, July 5, 2023
The United States Navy announced that it prevented Iranian warships from seizing two oil tankers in international waters near the coast of Oman on Wednesday.
“The Iranian navy did make attempts to seize commercial tankers lawfully transiting international waters,” Commander Tim Hawkins, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet said. “The U.S. Navy responded immediately and prevented those seizures.”
The U.S. Navy said that around 1:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday, an Iranian naval vessel sailed towards a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker across international waters. The American guided-missile destroyer, USS McFaul, was in the area and intervened, deterring the Iranian ship.
Approximately three hours later, a distress call was received from the Bahamian-flagged oil tanker Richmond Voyager while sailing through international waters near Muscat, Oman. It was headed towards the Arabian Sea according to the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet.
An Iranian warship closed in on the Richmond Voyager, hailed the commercial ship to stop and fired on it. The USS McFaul arrived on the scene in time to be able to deter the Iranian ship driving it away from the area. The U.S. Navy said that no one was injured during the incident, although bullets from the Iranian ship had pierced the hull of the Richmond Voyager near the crew’s living quarters.
A U.S. Navy drone was also released to the scene and captured video of the Iranian vessel firing on the tanker from about one nautical mile away in attempts to halt it and be able to board.
Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, released a statement praising the crew of the USS McFaul, and that the Navy remains “vigilant and ready to protect navigational rights.”
“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,” Cooper said. “We remain vigilant and ready to protect navigational rights in these critical waters.”
The U.S. Navy says that Iran has seized at least five commercial vessels in the area within the last two years and has harassed over 20 other vessels. Most of the reported incidents have taken place in the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf in which around 20% of the world’s crude oil passes through.
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