Armed guards board oil tanker at center of US-Iran dispute near Oman

An oil tanker caught up in a US-Iran dispute was boarded by armed individuals off the coast of Oman. The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker St Nikolas was boarded as it sailed close to the Omani city of Sohar. The armed intruders turned off its AIS tracking system and the ship appeared to be heading towards the Iranian port of Bandar-e-Jask. The tanker was seized by the US in a sanctions enforcement operation in 2023 under a different name, Suez Rajan. The ship, which was chartered by Turkish oil refiner Tupras, had 19 crew members on board and it was reported that they had lost communication with the vessel. The UK authority, which provides maritime security information, said it was unable to make further contact with the vessel and authorities were still investigating the incident. This area near the Strait of Hormuz is where the incident occurred. The United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet did not immediately respond to a request for comment or further information. Last year, the St Nikolas, then known as Suez Rajan, was carrying over 980,000 barrels of Iranian crude oil when it was seized. The oil was confiscated and fears of secondary sanctions on vessels used to unload it prevented the unloading of the crude for nearly two and a half months.