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Korean tanker seized by Iranian forces

The South Korean-flagged handysize tanker Hankuk Chemi was seized on Monday morning by Iranian forces while it transited the Strait of Hormuz. The DM Shipping Co-owned vessel had been underway eastbound at 12.5 knots prior to the incident from the Petroleum Chemical Quay, Jubail, Saudi Arabia, operated by Sabtank. According to security consultants, Ambrey the vessel has since been tracked inside Iranian territorial waters headed towards Bandar Abbas.

The Fars News Agency, a media outlet for the government of Iran, has tweeted that the Iranian navy seized the ship “due to oil pollution in the Persian Gulf”

The vessel has a crew of 23 comprising of Indonesian and Burmese nationals. The ship was taken on the same day a Korean diplomatic team touched down in Tehran to discuss what to do with millions of dollars of assets now frozen in Seoul.

The vessel detention comes five days after a limpet mine was discovered on a suezmax tanker off Iraq. 

“The placement of mines and the detention of vessels within the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman is activity previously attributed to Iranian forces. The IRGC and wider Iranian forces have a well-established practice of combining both attributable and non-attributable activity to control security narratives in the region. By creating conditions of insecurity, Iran seeks to destabilise existing rules of law and order, challenging the Saudi and American coalitions which militarily control much of the Middle East,” analysis from security firm Dryad Global suggested.  

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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