The Stena Impero -- was captured by the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following an accident with a fishing boat, Iranian media reported
IRAN’S Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, prompting the UK to warn Tehran of ‘serious consequences’ if it did not release the ship, making it the latest confrontation in the increasingly tense standoff in the important shipping route. Iranian media reported on Saturday the ship -- the Stena Impero -- was captured by the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Friday following an accident with a fishing boat. The tanker has 23 crew members of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationalities aboard. Earlier, the IRGC said that the ship was being held for ‘violating international regulations.’
A second British-owned Liberian-flagged tanker -- the MV Mesdar -- was also boarded by armed guards but was released. ‘Press TV’ reported citing unnamed Iranian military sources as saying that this vessel ‘was not seized, just shortly stopped and briefed by Iranian authorities’. Stena Bulk, which owns the seized Stena Impero vessel, said it was in ‘full compliance with all navigation and international regulations’ and was approached while it was in international waters.
Following the development, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned Tehran of ‘serious consequences’ if the situation is not resolved quickly. He said that the seizures were ‘completely unacceptable’ and ‘freedom of navigation must be maintained’. The UK Government’s emergency committee, Cobra, met in Whitehall twice on Friday in response to the crisis. A spokeswoman told the ‘BBC’ that the Government was ‘deeply concerned about Iran’s unacceptable actions’, saying they ‘represent a clear challenge to international freedom of navigation’.
“We have advised UK shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period,” the spokeswoman added. Hunt, who attended the Cobra meeting, said: “We are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences. We are not looking at military options. We are looking at a diplomatic way to resolve this situation but we are very clear that it must be resolved.”
18 Indians aboard British-flagged oil tanker
EIGHTEEN Indian nationals are among the 23 crew members of a British-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz amid fresh escalation of tensions in the Gulf, according to a media report. The Stena Impero was seized on Friday by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker was allegedly due to a collision with an Iranian fishing boat, Iran’s official news agency ‘IRNA’ said.
Stena Bulk, a Swedish company which owns the vessel, said they have been unable to contact the ship, which was seized in the Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway in the region. “There are 18 Indian and five crew members from Russia, Philipines, Latvia and other countries on board of Stena Impero. The captain is Indian, but the tanker is UK-flagged,” the news agency quoted ‘Allahmorad Afifipour’, director general of Ports and Maritime Affairs of Hormuzgan province, as saying.
“Stena Impero crashed into a fishing vessel,” he said, adding that the captain of the vessel tried to make contact with the UK tanker, but there was no signal. “Soon after the vessel was approached by unidentified small naval craft and a helicopter during her transit of the Strait of Hormuz in international waters...The vessel suddenly deviated from her passage to Jubail and headed North towards Iran,” the company which owns the tanker said. The vessel was in full compliance with all navigation and international regulations, it said.