Full chronology of naval tensions, attacks on cargo ships from Gulf to East med

Understanding the increase in attacks on ships in the Middle East


Recent tensions at sea include allegations by Iran that Israel has carried out an attack on one of its cargo ships in the Mediterranean. Israel has accused Iran of attacking an Israel-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. This builds on two years of attacks on ships and the seizing of ships by Iran and other countries. Here is a look back at the chronology of attacks.


January 13

Iran releases 10 captured US Navy Sailors.



Iranian drone harasses USS Nimitz.


October 26

Iranian fast boats harass USS Essex


January 14

US President Donald Trump asks Defense Secretary Mattis for plan to strike at Iranian fast boats.

February 21

Velayat Naval Drill.

March 14

Massive Iranian drone drill and coaster drill called ‘road to Jerusalem’

April 27

Iran releases footage it took of USS Eisenhower.

May 12

Four ships hit with mysterious explosions in Gulf of Oman. “Product tanker Andrea Victory suffered a gash in aft tank after an unknown object hit it on May 12, said tanker’s management company Thome Ship Management in a May 13 statement.” More details. Ships included: MV ALMARZOQAH – KSA Flag, MV AMJAD – KSA Flag, MVAMICHEL – UAE Flag and MV ANDREA VICTORY – Norway Flag.

June 13

Two ships struck with mines in Gulf of Oman. Kokuka Courageous and Front Altair damaged.

June 21

India deploys ships to Gulf to aid security.

July 4

UK Royal Marines intercept the Adrian Darya 1 (Grace 1) off Gibraltar. It had left Iran in April, and is later released in August and arrives off Syria in late August.

July 9

British Heritage tanker harassed by IRGC fast boats while underway near Strait of Hormuz, eventually has to shelter in Saudi Arabia waters.

July 17

An Iranian UAV harasses the USS Boxer and the US defends against it.

July 20

Iranian forces board UK-flagged Stena Impero

August 5

UK joins the US in maritime security mission in Gulf.


British Flagged oil tanker Stena Impero released by Iran

November 24

French Defense Minister Florence Parly says French naval base in Abu Dhabi will aid maritime security.

November 25

USS Forrest Sherman seizes ship smuggling weapons from iran to Yemen

December 27

Iran, Russia and China conduct joint naval drill

Throughout 2019, three Israeli attacks on Iranian ships are alleged by WSJ report in March 2021.


January 30

UK Royal Navy assumes command of International Maritime Security Construct to protect ship in Strait of Hormuz.

February 9

USS Normandy seizes Iranian weapons on ship heading for Yemen.

April 15

US releases photos of IRGC fast boats harassing US ships.

May 24

Five Iranian tankers make their way to Venezuela from Iran: Forest, Fortune, Petunia, Faxon and Clavel. Fortune tanker arrives off Venezuela from Iran carrying petroleum. “If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face trouble caused by the Americans, they [the US] will also be in trouble,” Rouhani said in a telephone conversation with the emir of Qatar.

July 2

Trump administration files a lawsuit to seize four Iranian gas takers headed for Venezuela.

July 5

Gulf Sky tanker goes “missing” off Khor Fakkan near UAE.

July 15

Gulf Sky found off Hormuz island near Iran, allegedly hijacked and moved to the new location with its crew on board.

August 14

US says it seized oil from four ships travelling from Iran to Venezuela, including the M/T Bella with international maritime organization (IMO) number 9208124, the M/T Bering with IMO number 9149225, the M/T Pandi with IMO number 9105073, and the M/T Luna with IMO number 9208100.

October 21

Crew of Gulf Sky still not paid after July ordeal.

December 23

Israel sends submarine to Persian Gulf region amid Iran tensions, according to Washington Post.

Throughout 2020 six Israeli attacks on Iranian ships are alleged.


January 4

Iran seizes South Korean Hankuk Chemi ship.

January 17

Emerald docks off Kharg island and is loaded with 112,000 tons of crude oil.

February 1

Traveling with its AIS transponder turned off, the Emerald proceeds up the coast between Israel and Cyprus in February. It appears to spill oil between February 2 and 5.\

February 2

Iran releases crew of South Korea’s Hankuk Chemi.

February 21

Oil spill from Emerald is said to be one of Israel’s worst in history as it hits beaches.

February 26

MV Helios Ray damaged travelling from Saudi Arabia through Strait of Hormuz to the Gulf of Oman.

February 28

Helios Ray docks in UAE after being damaged.

March 1

Israel blames Iran for attack on Israeli-owned Helios Ray.

March 3

Israel Environmental Protection Minister blames ship from Iran to Syria for oil spill off Israel’s coast.

March 9

OSINT online report shows unusual pattern of planes over Mediterranean.

March 10

Shahr E Kord damaged while travelling between Israel and Cyprus on the way to Syria.

Recreation of the Shahr E Kord’s route and when it was damaged.

March 11

Wall Street Journal report, based on US and “regional” sources alleges Israel’s attacks on Iranian ships. “The attacks attributed to the Israelis haven’t led to reports of any sunken ships, but the detonations have forced at least two ships to return to port in Iran…Among the dozen attacks on ships carrying Iranian oil are three such strikes in 2019, according to a shipping professional. Ships used by the Islamic Republic were targeted six times in 2020, according to a second shipping professional, in Tehran…In an episode last month, suspected Israeli operatives attached a limpet mine to attack an Iranian vessel as it anchored near Lebanon to deliver Iran oil to Syria, according to the first shipping professional. Israel’s military declined to comment on the incident.” One image in the article shows the Sabiti tanker.

March 12

Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL) says the Shahr E Kord was damaged. He says this on Friday, referring to a Wednesday incident.

March 13, 2021

Iran accuses Israel of being “prime suspect” in “terror” attack of Shahr E Kord.

Iran says that the US and Israel have “barred” cargo ships and oil from reaching Syria.

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