WASHINGTON — Iranian Revolutionary Guards fired warning shots Thursday at a Singapore-flagged commercial ship in the Gulf that had collided recently with an Iranian oil rig, US officials said Thursday.
After hearing a radio call for help, the United Arab Emirates dispatched coast guard vessels to aid the tanker and the Iranian boats then departed the area, US officials said.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels tried to intercept the Singapore-flagged ship, the Alpine Eternity, “in order to settle a legal dispute stemming from an incident on March 22, when the Alpine Eternity reportedly hit an Iranian-owned oil platform,” a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
“Iran claims that the vessel is liable for damages to the oil platform,” the official said.
The incident reflects rising tensions in the Gulf, fueled in part by the conflict in Yemen that pits Iranian-backed Shiite rebels against pro-government forces supported by a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arab states.
Thursday’s episode appeared similar to a move last month by Iran against a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship, the Maersk Tigris.
The Iranians seized the vessel in the Gulf after firing warning shots and cited a commercial dispute with the Danish shipping group Maersk which hired out the ship. The Maersk Tigris was eventually released after Iranian authorities said the matter was settled.