All clear given after Gulf of Oman hijacking
The UK Royal Navy said August 3 a hijacking incident near the coast of Oman has ended, with the boarders leaving a vessel that was now deemed safe.
A report seen by NGW from Lloyd’s List in London says armed men seized asphalt tanker Asphalt Princess (IMO 7382988) off the Gulf of Oman and later directed it to Iran.
“Lloyd's List understands from sources directly involved in the incident that heavily armed, unauthorised persons boarded the vessel, which last signalled its position around 1645 GMT London and want to sail it for Iran,” its August 3 report read.
Asphalt Princess is owned by Dubai’s Prime Tankers, which had a vessel seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the military, in 2019 on suspicion of smuggling oil, Lloyd’s added.
The UK Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO), part of the Royal Navy, gave the all clear on August 3, noting that “Boarders have left the vessel … vessel is safe ... (and the) incident is complete.”
The latest incident comes as Iranian president-elect and conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi is set to take the oath of office as Tehran looks to resolve simmering issues over its nuclear program with its Western counterparts.
Welcomed initially as something of a foregone conclusion, at least half a dozen rounds of negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action so far this year have yet to yield a breakthrough. This, meanwhile, is the second such incident near Iranian waters.
On August 1, British foreign secretary Dominic Raab condemned last week’s “unlawful and callous” attack on oil products tanker Mercer Street, which left a British and Romanian national dead.
“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran,” he said. “UK assessments have concluded that it is highly likely that Iran attacked the MV Mercer Street in international waters off Oman on 29 July using one or more unmanned aerial vehicles.”
Iran has flatly denied its involvement in the latest maritime incidents.
Markets have largely brushed off the potential for heightened geopolitical risk, with commodities instead focused on the possibility of an economic downturn due to the prevalence of the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.