Iran seizes MSC-operated 15,000 teu vessel

Iran seizes MSC-operated 15,000 teu vessel

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recently seized a containership, the MSC ARIES, operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). The vessel, with a capacity of 15,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (teu), was intercepted by Iranian forces while en route from the United Arab Emirates to the port of Nhava Sheva in India near the Strait of Hormuz.

According to Iran’s news agency IRNA, the vessel was boarded by members of Iran’s Special Naval Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in a heliborne operation and directed towards Iranian territorial waters. The ship’s crew of 25 is reportedly unharmed, although details are limited.

MSC stated that it is cooperating with relevant authorities for the safe return of the vessel and crew. AIS records indicate the ship is anchored near Bandar Abbas, between Iran’s mainland and Qeshm Island.

Previously managed by Zodiac Maritime, owned by shipping magnate Eyal Ofer, MSC ARIES was declared to no longer be associated with Zodiac, according to an email statement to Alphaliner. However, IRNA claims the vessel is operated by Zodiac Maritime Shipping Company.

The seizure of MSC ARIES has sparked international concern, with Israel’s Foreign Minister accusing Iran of piracy and violating international law, alleging the action was due to the vessel’s alleged Israeli ownership.

This incident occurs amid heightened tensions between Iran and Israel, following missile and drone strikes launched by Iranian forces in coordination with certain groups in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen on Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Houthi attacks in the Bab al-Mandab Strait have already prompted rerouting of shipping lanes, and Iran’s actions in the Gulf further compound maritime security concerns. The repercussions of this seizure could be substantial for global liner shipping.

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