An Iranian Navy helicopter on Friday landed on a vessel, the Delta Poseidon, which was sailing in the Persian Gulf and flying with the Greek flag, and armed men then “captured the ship’s crew,” including two Greek citizens, according to Greece’s Foreign Ministry.
Another Greek-flagged ship that was close to Iran’s coast was seized in a similar manner and seven Greek citizens were onboard, the ministry said in a statement. Iranian news media identified the second vessel as the Prudent Warrior and said it had recently anchored in Basra, Iraq, and was carrying Iraqi oil.
A marine tracking website, MarineTraffic.com, said both vessels had loaded their oil cargo at the port in Basra.
Iranian news media said the two vessels had an estimated combined capacity to carry 1.8 million barrels of oil and that their cargo was now in Iran’s possession.
The Guards guided the Greek ships to Iranian waters near the shoreline, where they have anchored, said an Iranian oil dealer who requested anonymity for fear of retribution. He said Iran had transported the crews to a guesthouse on shore, where they were being kept under a form of house arrest. They have been replaced with Iranian crews and gunmen to ensure the ships would remain in place.
The Tasnim news agency warned that 17 other Greek-flagged tankers currently afloat in the Persian Gulf would be seized by Iran if its oil and tanker taken by Greece last month were not returned.
Iran has a history of the retaliatory seizing of oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz in response to ships carrying its oil being stopped or confiscated. But the incident on Friday marked the first time in months that a foreign-flagged vessel was targeted by Iran.