Iran has seized a bunker tanker and an anchor-handling tug supply (AHTS) vessel on suspicion of oil smuggling.

The incidents took place on the same day — 13 September — that a United Arab Emirates-controlled general cargo ship reported an “attack” in the Middle East Gulf and diverted into Iranian waters.

Iran’s Fars news agency said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized two Panama-flagged ships smuggling 1.5m litres of fuel.

The two vessels had a total of 37 crew members from various countries, and were seized on their way out of Iran, it was reported.

Iranian sources have said the tanker is called the Krone. This could be a 155-dwt bunker tanker built in 1978.

The vessel has not transmitted on AIS since 2019. However, its flag is not known.

Security company Ambrey said the AHTS detention took place in Iranian waters.

Iranian authorities released a video of the vessel on 14 September.

This showed the AHTS carrying fuel hoses, pumping equipment and lubricant drums on its deck.

The vessel name was not given.

Ambrey believes the AHTS is a type built in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

AIS transmissions from a ship of this kind stopped on 13 September and had not resumed as of Thursday night.

The incident involving the UAE cargo ship took place on Wednesday morning in Oman territorial waters, according to security company Ambrey.

Leaving traffic lane

The ship was observed leaving the eastbound traffic separation scheme without a significant change in speed.

It then proceeded to head east towards Iran.

After entering Iranian waters, the vessel went adrift.

Eight hours later, the ship resumed sailing east closer to Iran and then turned south.

Details tally with the 6,800-dwt Royal Blue (ex-Cosocean, built 2000).

The Royal Blue is listed as owned by Oasis International of the UAE, which has been contacted for comment.

The Persian Gulf has been quiet in terms of similar incidents since July, when Iran tried to detain two tankers, and seized a chemical carrier on suspicion of smuggling oil.

The Tanzania-flagged tanker of 1,131 dwt was approached by Iranian forces.

The description fitted the profile of the 1,100-dwt Nada2 (built 1990).

This came a day after the US accused Iranian forces of firing on Chevron’s 319,000-dwt VLCC Richmond Voyager (built 2018), which suffered minor damage.