ESCALATION: Iran has seized two tankers, one belonging to the UK, and President Trump is getting involved…
Major escalations in the Middle East.
Iran has seized two tankers.
From Zero Hedge:
Update 2: Iran has seized a second tanker, as ship-tracking data used by Bloomberg has identified a second oil tanker, the Mesdar, which has turned toward the Iranian Coast. According to Bloomberg, the Mesdar is Liberian-flagged, 315,800 dwt crude tanker, which was Headed to Ras Tanura from Malaysia before turning toward Iran coast Friday.
Clipper Data has slightly conflicting data, noting that the tanker was discharged in China in April and sat empty off Singapore. In early July, it left for the Arab Gulf. Then at about 16:30 UTC, it made an turn north and is now in Iranian waters.
Here’s what we know:
Liberian-flagged VLCC #Mesdar loaded in March with 1.9mn bbls of Saudi crude.
It discharged in China in April and sat empty off Singapore. In early July, it left for the Arab Gulf.
At about 16:30 UTC, it made an turn north and is now in Iranian waters. pic.twitter.com/yrugM94riY
— ClipperData (@ClipperData) July 19, 2019
Given the rapidly escalating events only over the past week, and with now two foreign tankers captured by Iran, war is no doubt on the horizon.
Incidents in Gulf waters| Hormuz last 6 days:
• Sun.: #Iran diverts Riah vessel, says for repairs then smuggling
• Thu. : US shoots down Iran drone
• Fri.: Iran captures British flagged tanker
Nothing about this is normal. Volatility not seen in area since 1980s
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) July 19, 2019
* * *
A British flagged tanker has been seized by Iran as it was heading toward Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. The vessel has been identified as the ‘Stena Impero’ which according to public tracking data was expected at the port of Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia; however, on Friday it dramatically veered off course and began sailing directly into Iranian waters.
Iran state media has confirmed the IRGC announced it has “captured a British tanker in the Persian Gulf” because the vessel was “violating international regulations”. CNN is reporting that US officials have confirmed Iran captured the British vessel in the Strait of Hormuz.
The UK Defence Journal first reported based on satellite tracking: “The British flagged ‘Stena Impero’ has taken a very sudden turn into Iranian waters despite her original destination being Saudi Arabia, according to data relayed by maritime tracking services.”
“The vessel is now apparently heading to Qeshm in Iran but had been originally sailing towards Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia,” according to the breaking report.
Crucially, this comes just as UK officials have announced authorties in Gibraltar will detain the tanker ‘Grace 1’ – first seized early this month by UK Royal Marines – for another 30 days.
Iran had promised to retaliate in kind, following the continuing detention of a UAE-based Panamanian flagged vessel, the Riah, this week.
Oil prices spiked on the news…
British Ministry of Defense stating that the ship is “of course” meaning that it’s heading in it’s original path, but it simply just isn’t. It was originally heading in the proper direction, turned, and then turned back and headed for Iran.
— dog (@IntelDoge) July 19, 2019
Currently the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose and at least one other UK warship are active in providing maritime security to British vessels and allies in the region.
— Luna News (@Breakingservice) July 19, 2019
According to the monitoring publication Aurora Intel the UK Ministry of Defense is “aware of the tanker’s movement towards Iran…”
#British flagged oil tanker Stena Impero has rather “extremely” diverted off planned track into #Iran|ian waters in the Persian Gulf. Last AIS information was over 15 minutes ago now. pic.twitter.com/Z66abDzc5P
— Aurora Intel (@AuroraIntel) July 19, 2019
Amid soaring tensions and increasing “tanker wars” related to US oil sanctions and the UK detention of the Grace 1, which had reportedly been bound for Syria on a sanctions busting run, Iran’s elite IRGC had promised that should they come upon a British vessel in the Strait of Hormuz, it would seize it “without delay, with firmness and with speed,” according to a prior statement.
The Russian-based monitoring group Maritime Bulletin has also released the following information on the vessel:
It looks like the UK-flagged product tanker STENA IMPERO was forced to move into Iranian waters while transiting Strait of Hormuz en route to Al Jubayl Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf. Tanker turned hard a starboard at around 1527 UTC Jul 19, and moved straight into Iranian waters, as of 1620 UTC tanker continued sailing in Iranian waters, south of Bandar Abbas, at some 13.5 knots speed.
It does look like a hijack on the high seas, and if it is so, it’s an act of piracy, absolutely unlawful seizure of a foreign tanker in international waters…
President Trump hailed a “close alliance” with the United Kingdom as he answered a question about seized British tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.
“We have a very close alliance with the United Kingdom. We always have,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Later, Trump claimed the episode proved his warnings about Iran correct.
“This only goes to show what I’m saying about Iran. Trouble. Nothing but trouble,” he said. “It goes to show you I was right about Iran.”
He noted the “US has very few tankers going in because we’re using a lot of our own energy,” but said the American presence in the region was still robust.
“We have a lot of ships there that are warships,” he said.
“We’ll talk to the UK,” he said, suggesting there was a lack of clarity about the current situation: “We heard about it. We heard it was one. We heard it was two.”
Trump noted there would soon be a new British prime minister. “That’s a good thing for the UK,” Trump said.
Prior escalation from last week:
Because no matter what is going on, and no matter what the truth is, one thing is for sure – this is an escalation.
On a whole new level.