Iran's navy seized a Marshall Island-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, according to US officials- the latest in a series of seizures amid greater tensions over Tehran's growing nuclear aspirations.
America's own maritime military service made the revelation Thursday, while identifying the ship as the Advantage Sweet.
Officials said the vessel had been heading to Houston - before it was abruptly hijacked in international waters. The US Navy said in a statement the unlawful seizure was carried out by Iran's own naval branch.
The vessel sent a distress signal at 1.15pm, officials said, while being taken in international waters just north of Oman's capital, Muscat. The boat disembarked from Kuwait Monday and passed through the Persian Gulf the day before.
The US Navy fleet stationed in that area of the world is now demanding the ship's immediate release, with it being the fifth commercial vessel unlawfully taken by Tehran in the past two years.
'Iran's actions are contrary to international law and disruptive to regional security and stability,' the military branch's 5th Fleet said in a statement Thursday that announced the boat's capture.
'The Iranian government should immediately release the oil tanker,' it added.
Initially, The Navy had said Iran's paramilitary seized the vessel, but an American naval aircraft shortly thereafter confirmed Iran's navy captured the ship.
Fifth Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins clarified that to The Associated Press Thursday as news of the seizure remained largely shrouded, with few details shared more than an hour later.