ATHENS – The Greek shipping company that owns the oil tanker St. Nikolas that was seized by Iran in a raid on board wants the United States government for help in getting it back as tensions have risen in the Mideast waters.
“While defendants hope to regain control over the vessel, their top priority is the safe return of its crew,” the lawyer of Empire Navigation said in a filing to the US District Court for the District of Columbia.
“The US government … is well aware of this situation, and defendants appreciate whatever assistance the US government can provide,” said the filing, reported The Cradle, although it wasn’t specified what could be done about it.
Iran confirmed that its Navy had taken control of the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker in the Oman Sea and that it was on a court order with the approval of the Ports and Shipping Organization by Iran’s navy in retaliation for the theft of Iran’s oil by the US in April 2023.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said in relation to Iran’s seizure of the ship that there was “no justification whatsoever to seize it, none whatsoever. They need to let it go.” The St. Nikolas was sailing from the Iraqi port of Basra and en route to Turkey.
A British maritime risk management firm, Ambrey, said that those boarding “covered the vessel’s cameras” and that an officer “reported hearing unknown voices over the phone along with the master’s voice.”
“The armed suspects were reportedly wearing military-style black uniforms with black masks,” Ambrey added.
The St. Nikolas, previously named the Suez Rajan, has been a point of tension between the US and Iran. The US captured the tanker in April 2023, seizing one million barrels of Iranian crude oil in the process.
Washington and its allies have been seizing Iranian oil tankers since their withdrawal from the nuclear deal known as the JCPOA, and re-imposed sanctions on Iran in 2018, the news site noted.