According to Seoul’s defense ministry Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps seized South Korean oil tanker, the MT Hankuk Chemi near the Strait of Hormuz at around 10AM Iranian local time, or 3:30 PM Korea time on Monday.
Iran reportedly cited environmental and chemical pollution by the ship for its seizure an allegation the operator of the tanker denies.
South Korea’s defense ministry was promptly notified and at 3:40 PM, ten minutes after the seizure the South Korean military ordered its anti-piracy Cheonghae Unit, operating from Oman’s Muscat port to head to the Strait.
The unit arrived at the Strait of Hormuz some twelve hours later at around 3AM on Tuesday, Korea time.
The Iranian ambassador to South Korea was summoned to Seoul’s foreign affairs ministry on Tuesday afternoon.
The foreign ministry said the seized oil tanker is presumed to be detained at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
The Cheonghae unit, made up of a four,400 ton destroyer, a Lynx helicopter and some 300 military personnel plans to work with the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces for the ship’s early release.
A total of 20 crew members were aboard the oil tanker including five South Korean nationals, 11 Myanmar nationals, two Indonesians and two Vietnamese nationals.

“The Cheonghae Unit arrived at the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday morning Korea time. But for the safety of the Korean nationals, we’ll refrain from explaining further about the unit’s operations at this time.”

One-third of global crude passes through the Strait of Hormuz.
South Korea’s oil tankers, which carry more than 70-percent of imported crude from oil-producing countries, pass through the Strait some 900 times a year.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.

Reporter : jiyeonkim@arirang.co.kr

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