On April 13th, local time, the official Iranian news agency (IRNA) reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) special naval forces seized a container ship related to Israel named “MSC Aries” near the Strait of Hormuz. According to IRNA, the vessel is currently being directed to Iranian territorial waters.

Earlier, the Associated Press released a video and reported that the cargo ship detained en route from the UAE to India could be the “MSC Aries,” flying the Portuguese flag. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) later confirmed that the vessel, which has a capacity of 14300 TEU and is manned by 25 crew members, was boarded by Iranian personnel. The company is cooperating with relevant authorities to ensure the safety of both the crew and the vessel.

The Portuguese government also stated that the “MSC Aries,” a vessel flying the Portuguese flag, was detained by Iran on Saturday morning. The ship is owned by Zodiac Maritime, based in London. The Portuguese government is in contact with Iranian authorities and has confirmed that there are no Portuguese citizens on board, neither among the crew nor the command.

Zodiac Maritime in a statement clarified that MSC is the manager and commercial operator of the “MSC Aries” container ship. MSC is responsible for all vessel operations, including cargo handling and maintenance. MSC also handles the ship’s itineraries, schedules, and crew. Any inquiries about the vessel should be directed to MSC. It was revealed that the company belongs to the Israeli Zodiac Group, owned by Israeli real estate, energy, technology, and shipping magnate Eyal Ofer.

According to the ShipViewer platform operated by COSCO Shipping Science and Technology, the “MSC Aries” container ship is indeed owned and managed by Zodiac Maritime and is leased and operated by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).

The “MSC Aries” container ship (IMO: 9857169) was built in 2020, flies the Portuguese flag, and has a capacity of 14300 TEU. It is part of MSC‘s deployment on the Himalaya Express (IEX) route between Western India and Europe, and was on voyage IS413B at the time of the incident.

Tensions Escalate, Situation Intensifies! What are the Implications?

Middle Eastern defense officials have noted that Tehran’s relations with the West are currently more strained. A spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces, Haggari, warned that Iran would face consequences if it escalates the situation. Israel is now on high alert, ready to respond to any further attacks by Iran.

Public opinion in Iran generally believes it is necessary to retaliate against Israel to respond to attacks on Iranian diplomatic facilities. Iranian analysts argue that this move aims to drag Iran into the Middle Eastern chaos, thereby alleviating international pressure on Israel amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Iran needs to carefully assess its retaliatory actions to avoid falling into Israel’s “trap” and ensure that Israel is punished for its wrongful acts.

The Persian Gulf, a strategically vital waterway closely linked to the Red Sea, is a center of focus. The market is concerned that potential actions by Iran in the Persian Gulf could further intensify tensions in international shipping.

Due to the tense situation in the Middle East, international shipping costs have been rising continuously. On April 12th, the main futures contract for container shipping on the Europe route surged by more than 5%. Several shipping giants, including Mediterranean Shipping(MSC), Hapag-Lloyd, and CMA CGM, have announced price increases for the Asia-Europe route.

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