New Delhi: The Indian government has contacted authorities in Iran to secure the release of its 18 sailors who are on board British oil tanker — Stena Impero — that has been seized by Iran following a collision with an Iranian fishing boat and for “violating” international maritime rules.
Erik Hanell, President and Chief Executive, Stena Bulk, said: “There are 23 seafarers onboard of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationality. There have been no reported injuries and the safety and welfare of our crew remains our primary focus. We are in close contact with both the UK and Swedish government authorities to resolve this situation and we are liaising closely with our seafarers’ families,” Hanell said.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced on Friday they had confiscated a British tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz for breaking “international maritime rules”.
Iraqi media quoted Head of Ports and Maritime Organisation in southern Hormozgan province, Allahmorad Afifipour, saying that the oil tanker ignored the distress call from the Iranian fishing boat with whom it collided.
“All its 23 crew members will remain on the ship until the probe is over,” Afifipour said. The 23 crew comprised 18 Indian nationals and five others of other nationalities including Russia, the Philippines, and Latvia,” he said. Tanker tracking service Marine Traffic showed that the UK-flagged, Swedish-owned Stena Impero last signalled its location near the Island of Larak in the highly sensitive waterway at 9:00 PM local time. The UK is “urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf,” a British government spokesperson said. The announcement came just hours after Gibraltar’s Supreme Court announced it would extend by 30 days the detention of an Iranian tanker seized two weeks ago on allegations that it was headed to Syria in violation of sanctions. In early July, British marines and Gibraltar police seized an Iranian tanker off the Southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.
Gibraltar claimed that the ship was transporting crude oil to Syria “in violation” of the EU sanctions placed on Damascus, escalating tensions in the Gulf. British authorities’ detention of the Grace 1 supertanker sparked outrage in Tehran, which accused London of doing the bidding of the Washington in action that is “tantamount to maritime banditry”.
On Tuesday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused the “vicious British” of “piracy” and vowed retaliation....