According to a report by the Associated Press, citing ship-tracking data from MarineTraffic.com, the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier named Venture exhibited erratic changes in its course while navigating through the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf at the time of the reported incident. The report further indicated that the ship's location aligned with the information provided by the UK Maritime Trade Operations, which oversees regional traffic. Trust Bulkers, based in Athens, Greece, was identified as the registered manager of the vessel.
The incident occurred amid a series of maritime confrontations that have reportedly involved Tehran since the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal in 2018. The Strait of Hormuz, through which approximately 20 percent of the world's oil passes, remains a significant focal point in these confrontations.
In response to the distress call from the internationally-flagged merchant vessel, the US Navy deployed the guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul, while the Royal Navy dispatched its frigate HMS Lancaster, which also launched a helicopter for surveillance purposes.
According to the US Navy's statement, the incident occurred around 4:56 pm local time when the merchant vessel made a radio distress call. The US Navy referred to the crew as "civilian" and stated that three fast-attack boats closely approached and followed the merchant’s vessel. The US Navy identified the fast-attack craft as belonging to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. The situation de-escalated approximately an hour later when the merchant’s vessel confirmed the departure of the fast-attack craft. The merchant ship continued its transit through the Strait of Hormuz without further incident, as reported by the US Navy.
The US Navy released black-and-white images, reportedly taken by the US Navy Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft, depicting the alleged incident. The images show three small boats approaching a commercial ship. However, the specific merchant vessel involved was not identified by the US Navy.
The details surrounding the reported incident remain as per the information provided by officials, citing ship-tracking data and statements from the involved naval forces. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Image source: AP news