IRGC Seen Practicing Swarm Tactics Day Before South Korean Tanker Seizure
Iran's IRGC Navy (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) has seized a South Korean chemical tanker, the HANKUK CHEMI (IMO: 9232369). The day before, on Jan 3 2020, boats which appear to be IRGC-N were seen exercising swarm tactics. Their formations were clearly visible on Sentinel-2 satellite imagery. Large fishing fleets of small boats are also active in the area and often move in unison, making firm ID'ing challenging in this imagery. However in this case I suspect that some are IRGC-N boats.
The tanker was in the gulf, heading from AL JUBAIL (Saudi Arabia) to FUJAIRAH (UAE). This route took her past Iranian waters in the Strait of Hormuz where she appears to have been boarded. The boats shown in Iranian press images accompanying the tanker are consistent with the satellite imagery.
The tanker was approached by an IRGC-N patrol boat and several RHIBs, before being boarded from a Bell 412 helicopter:
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This is only a few days after an Iranian-type limpet mine was found on a tanker in the Gulf.
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