DUBAI: Iran has taken control of a US cargo ship and its 34 crew for “trespassing” on its territorial waters, Al Arabiya television and the semi-official Iranian news agency Fars reported on Tuesday.
Al Arabiya said an Iranian “force” seized the ship in the Gulf on Tuesday and directed it to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
The channel said the force had “opened fire” on the US ship, which had 34 US sailors aboard. It gave no further details.
Fars also did not cite any sources.
The US Fifth Fleet in the Gulf Arab kingdom of Bahrain had no immediate comment on the report.
A US official told Reuters on Tuesday that there are no indications so far that any US ship is being directed by Iranian forces into an Iranian port.
The official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity to discuss the situation, said the United States was still working to get clarity on the situation.
Meanwhile Fars News Agency(FNA)- flash this news as”An informed source in Iran confirmed earlier reports that the Iranian Navy has seized a US ship in the Persian Gulf, adding that the ship is Marshall Islands-flagged, but is owned by the US.
“The ship is a trade vessel and has been seized by the Iranian navy at the request of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization,” the source told FNA on Tuesday.
“The ship was seized after a relevant court order was issued for its confiscation,” he added, indicating that the the IPMO had monetary differences with the ship owner.
The source said there could also be American nationals among the crew.
The Iranian Navy confiscated the American trade vessel with all its 34 crew on Tuesday afternoon.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy is responsible for security of Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s military vessels are now taking the American vessel to Iran’s Southern port city of Bandar Abbas in the Persian Gulf.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry confirmed the development minutes ago, while a Pentagon spokesman said a Marshall Islands-flagged ship had been boarded by the Iranian navy.
“The vessel initially ignored the warning, but complied after the shots were fire,” a US Army Colonel Steve Warren told RT.
A Pentagon spokesman said the name of the ship is Maersk Tigris, adding that no US navy or military forces involved in the incident.
Other sources also quoted the Pentagon spokesman as saying that US planes and destroyer USS Farragut responded to Maersk Tigris distress call and are monitoring situation as Maersk Tigris is nearing the Iranian port.”