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Iranian Navy Seizes U.K. Marines

Oil prices rise after the incident in the Persian Gulf.

Updated from 9:49 a.m. EDT

Crude oil futures were rising Friday morning in New York amid news that the Iranian navy has captured 15 British marines in the Persian Gulf.

The seamen are reported to be crewmembers of the frigate HMS Cornwall, and they were conducting inspections of a merchant ship when they were surrounded by Iranian vessels. They have since been taken in to Iranian waters, according to reports.

Light, sweet crude futures for May delivery were surging 85 cents to $62.54 a barrel at the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent North Sea crude was up 58 cents at $63.09 a barrel.

No U.S. personnel were involved in the incident, reports indicate. A U.S. military official told


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that the British marines had boarded an Iranian ship they believed was smuggling cars before they were taken in to custody.

"We are urgently pursuing this matter with the Iranian authorities at the highest level and on the instructions of the Foreign Secretary, the Iranian ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office," the U.K. defense ministry said in a statement.

"The British Government is demanding the immediate and safe return of our people and equipment," the statement continued.

The Royal Navy's Web site lists the HMS Cornwall as having been launched in October 1985 and commissioned in 1988. The ship can carry as many as 301 sailors.

Current duties aside, the Cornwall is a combat vessel designed for surface warfare. It's outfitted with antisubmarine and antiaircraft weapons and surveillance systems.

As for other commodities, natural gas was fractionally higher at $7.33 per million British thermal units. Heating oil and reformulated gasoline futures were up less than a penny each, at $1.73 a gallon and $1.96 a gallon, respectively. All three had been trading down earlier.

Gold was off 80 cents at $663.40 an ounce, and silver was surrendering 10 cents to $13.38 an ounce. Copper was up 2.7 cents to just under $3.10 a pound.