Iran seizes MSC-operated 15,000 teu vessel


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

According to reports from Iran’s news agency IRNA, the Special Naval Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps conducted a heliborne operation to board the MSC ARIES, directing it towards Iranian territorial waters. The crew of 25 is reported to be physically unharmed, but details remain limited. MSC stated that it is collaborating with the relevant authorities to ensure the safe return of the vessel and its crew.

AIS records confirm that the MSC ARIES is currently anchored between Iran’s mainland and Qeshm Island, near the port of Bandar Abbas. At the time of the seizure, the vessel was deployed on MSC’s India and Middle East – Europe service, known as the ‘Himalaya’ route.

Although the vessel was previously managed by Zodiac Maritime, a company controlled by shipping magnate Eyal Ofer, a recent statement from the ship manager indicated that the MSC ARIES is no longer associated with Zodiac. However, IRNA claims that the Portuguese-flagged vessel is operated by Zodiac Maritime Shipping Company.

It is widely believed that Iran’s actions are politically motivated, particularly due to tensions between Iran and Israel. Israel’s foreign minister accused Iran of piracy, highlighting that Iran’s actions violate international law. Iran’s recent actions in the Middle East Gulf have expanded the maritime danger zone, raising concerns for global liner shipping operators.

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