An Iranian warship fired on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman before leaving the scene after U.S. naval forces arrived, U.S. 5th Fleet announced on Wednesday.
Early Wednesday morning, Iranian warships attempted to seize two commercial tankers. Iranian personnel fired multiple shots while attempting to take oil tanker Richmond Voyager, according to the Navy release.
USS McFaul (DDG-74), as well as surveillance assets, including an MQ-9 Reaper and Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, responded to the two attempted seizures.
The Iranian Navy first attempted to take oil tanker TRF Moss, which flew the Marshall Island flag, around 1 a.m. local time. The Iranian Navy vessel left once McFaul arrived, according to 5th Fleet.
Around three hours later, another Iranian Navy vessel attempted to make Richmond Voyager, under the Bahamas flag, stop. Richmond Voyager was more than 20 miles off the coast of Muscat, Oman, and was in international waters when the Iranian Navy approached it.
When McFaul arrived on scene, the Iranian Navy vessel left. The oil tanker did not have any significant damage from the shots fired. There were no injuries, although several of the rounds hit the tanker’s hull near where the crew has its living spaces, according to the release.
According to the British maritime security firm Ambrey, the tanker was told via radio to stop by the Iranians. When the tanker didn’t comply, the Iranians opened fire.
The Iranian Navy, as well as the sectarian military force Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, have increased attempts to seize commercial ships over the past couple of years. Iran has harassed, attacked or seized 20 internationally-flagged ships since 2021, according to the Navy.
Earlier this year, Iranian forces seized two tankers within a week of each other, USNI News reported in May.
The U.S. increased its rotation of ships and aircraft that patrol the Strait of Hormuz in early May after Iran seized two commercial vessels within a week.