The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said that the “incident”, which it had described as a potential hijacking on Tuesday, was now “complete”. It did not provide further details.
The Financial Times reported that US military forces had gone to the area to investigate overnight. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attempted ship hijack.
According to the shipping news website Argus, the hijacked vessel was boarded by six Iranian nationals. The crew were unable to understand why the Iranians had boarded the ship, Argus reported.
Shipping authority Lloyd’s List and maritime intelligence firm Dryad Global had both identified the hijacked vessel as the Panama-flagged tanker, Asphalt Princess. The vessel’s owner, listed as Emirati free zone-based Glory International, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Lloyd’s List reported that armed men had boarded the tanker and ordered it to sail to Iran. The incident took place in an area in the Arabian Sea leading to the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for about a fifth of the world’s sea-borne oil exports.
Apparently responding to the incident, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh described the recent maritime attacks in the Persian Gulf as “completely suspicious”. He denied that Iran was involved.
“Reaffirming our strong commitment to regional stability and maritime security, Iran stands ready to offer assistance in case of any maritime accidents,” he said.
On Wednesday, several rockets were fired by militant groups in southern Lebanon towards Israel which landed in an open area near the border and started a fire.
It was not immediately clear whether the rocket fire was linked to global tensions with Iran, though the Iranian proxy group Hizbollah is the most powerful armed force in Lebanon alongside the Lebanese army.
The Israeli military responded to the rockets with artillery fire on targets along the Lebanese border.