Incident Alert – Maritime Security Incident off the Coast of Oman – Shots Fired

INCIDENT ALERT – Maritime Security Incident off the Coast of Oman – Shots Fired
Date: 05 July 2023 0159 UTC
Position: 24° 01′ 07″ N – 58° 50′ 48″ E
Location: 28nm Northeast of Muscat. Oman


Incident Details:

Yesterday, UKMTO released an update to its Warning 001/Jul/2023, changing the classification of the event from a Suspicious Approach to an Incident. The US Navy later confirmed that it had intervened to prevent Iran from seizing two commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday. In the statement, the U.S. Navy said that at 0100 local time, an Iranian naval vessel had approached the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker TRF MOSS, in international waters in the Gulf of Oman, but the Iranian vessel departed when the US warship MCFAUL, arrived on the scene.

About 3 hours later, the US Navy said that it had received a distress call from a Bahamian-flagged oil tanker, the RICHMOND VOYAGER, which had been directed by an Iranian naval vessel to stop.  As the US ship made its way to the scene, Iranian forces fired on the VOYAGER with “long bursts from both small arms and crew-served weapons”, but that no serious damage or loss of life occurred, the statement from the US Navy said. The Iranian forces left when the USS MCFAUL arrived.

map showing incident location


Comment. As Neptune reported yesterday, this appears to be latest in a series of incidents involving the attempted or successful hijacking of a commercial vessel by Iranian forces. In most cases such as this, the Iranians will claim the vessel was involved in smuggling oil or fuel products or linked to financial irregularities.

Analysis.  It is highly likely this incident involved elements of the Iranian Navy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Navy). It is unclear why these vessels were the targeted. However, we assess it is likely to be another attempt to increase tensions between Iran and Coalition Forces operating in the region.