The government of Greece has issued an alert warning all Greek ships currently sailing in Persian Gulf waters to adapt and remain aware of heightened threats against them following last week's seizure of two Greek oil tankers by Iran's military. Maritime tanker monitors suggest at least a dozen Greek tankers are currently in waters near Iran.
The alert told vessels to immediately "adapt to the unacceptable situation and reality created by the Iranian government’s tactic," according government spokesman Ioannis Oikonomou at a Monday press briefing in Athens, per Bloomberg reporting.
Tasnim news agency over the weekend threatened that 17 other Greek-flagged tankers in the Persian Gulf risk seizure by the Islamic Republic as further retaliation for the US stealing Iranian oil in the Mediterranean when a Russian-flag tanker carrying Iranian crude was recently seized off Greece.
Nour News, a website close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, had warned earlier on Friday that Tehran planned to take “punitive action” over Greece assisting the U.S.
Iran struck an apparent act of 'revenge' last Friday. Greece's foreign ministry confirmed that the Greek-flagged Delta Poseidon was boarded by Iranian militants via helicopter, later identified in international reports as IRGC operatives. The ministry had called the act "piracy" and a "violent taking over of two Greek-flagged ships." At least two Greek citizens were detained in that first boarding.
"A similar incident was reported on another Greek-flagged ship, carrying seven Greek citizens, off the Iranian coast," the ministry had described of the second ship, identified as Prudent Warrior, which is operated by the Greek company Polembros Shipping.
Greek oil tankers in March, April & May 2022 were 60% of total tanker capacity taking oil out of Russia (blue). In the same period in 2021, they were 33% of capacity. So Greek tankers have clearly shifted towards transporting Russian oil. A business decision. With @JonathanPingle pic.twitter.com/gXcBsdpowX— Robin Brooks (@RobinBrooksIIF) May 29, 2022
The Delta Poseidon had been about 22 nautical miles off Iran's coast in international waters when it was boarded. Elite commandos of the IRGC Navy closely monitor traffic through the narrow but vital Strait of Hormuz passageway, sometimes leading to confrontations also with the US military.
France is among leading Western countries condemning the Iranian action, while of course not acknowledging the US seizure of Iranian oil in the first place. "We call on Iran to immediately release the crew and ships," a French government statement said, also warning that Tehran must halt its interference of maritime traffic near its waters.
Iran appears poised for a potential return to a scenario akin to the 2019 summer of 'tanker wars' - which was kicked off after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 4th of that year, in retaliation for the US/UK-ordered detention of Iran's 'Grace 1' off Gibraltar.