Iranian cargo ship ‘Iran Saviz’ was attacked in the Red Sea by limpet mines attached to the hull, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Tuesday.
“The vessel Iran Saviz has been stationed in the Red Sea for the past few years to support Iranian commandos sent on commercial vessel (anti-piracy) escort missions,” the report said.
Iranian officials did not immediately comment on the incident.
Pentagon Spokesperson Commander Jessica L. McNulty commented on the incident saying: “We are aware of media reporting of an incident involving the Saviz in the Red Sea. We can confirm that no US forces were involved in the incident. We have no additional information to provide.”
Here’s what we know about the ship so far:
‘Saviz’ was sanctioned in 2018 by former US President Donald Trump’s administration. The vessel was placed on the Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN).
The Washington Free Beacon first reported the sanctioning of the ship citing US officials and military experts familiar with the situation.
The report said ‘Saviz’ provided targeting information for Houthi anti-ship attacks, including the one on a Saudi oil tanker in 2018.
‘Saviz’ is officially listed as a general cargo vessel. However, the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy (USMA) described the ‘Saviz’ in a report as the “Iranian mother ship on station located in Eritrea’s contiguous waters.”
It said: “The ship has signals intelligence domes and antennae. It is visited by all Iranian ships moving through the Red Sea, nominally to coordinate anti-piracy measures. At least three speedboats are based on deck, which are used to ferry personnel to Yemen.”
Analysts at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank, said in a 2018 report: “The Iranian military is likely using the ‘Saviz’ to provide targeting data for Houthi anti-shipping attacks.”
Saudi officials in the Arab Coalition fighting to restore the internationally-recognized government in Yemen against the Houthi militia had previously said the ‘Saviz’ was “suspected to be the key command center for coordinating Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.”
Coalition spokesman, Turki al-Malki, said in 2018 Saudi Arabia had evidence that the ‘Saviz’ – registered as an Iranian trade vessel – plays a central role in commanding operations for the Houthis to launch maritime attacks against vessels in Bab el-Mandab Strait.
He added that the vessel also provides logistical support and carries large amounts of military equipment for the Houthis.