New Delhi: Indian nationals are among 23 people who were on board the British oil tanker which was seized by Iran on Saturday, said cargo vessel owner Stena Bulk. The 23 people on board are of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationality. Notably, this is the second time in two months that Iran has tried to seized a British oil tanker. Last time, armed Iranian boats unsuccessfully tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf. Early this month, British Royal Marines had seized a supertanker on the suspicion that it was smuggling Iranian crude oil to Syria.
“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 at approximate 1600 hrs BST today, the vessel suddenly deviated from her passage to Jubail and headed north towards Iran. The vessel was in full compliance with all navigation and international regulations. The vessel is commercially managed by Stena Bulk of Sweden,” Stena Bulk, said in a statement.
Erik Hanell, President and Chief Executive, Stena Bulk, stated,“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.”
Earlier it was reported that Iran seized one British tanker and stopped another in the Strait of Hormuz for “violating international regulations.” Western Asian nation also announced that it has seized a British tanker Steno Impero. Hours later, US official said that Iran has also seized a second tanker, the Liberian-flagged MV Masdar, reported CNN.
However, Masdar was allowed to carry its course after Iranian officials followed up with the ship on its environmental regulations and it’s no longer in the Iranian waters. “All crew are safe and well,” Mesdar’s manager, Norbulk Shipping UK, said in a statement confirming that the ship had been released.
“Communication has been re-established with the vessel and Master confirmed that the armed guards have left and the vessel is free to continue the voyage,” it said.
Condemning the seizure, the UK said, “These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region.”
United States President Donald Trump said that it proves that Iran is nothing but trouble. “This only goes to show what I’m saying about Iran. Trouble. Nothing but trouble,” he said. Furthermore, he noted, “US has very few tankers going in because we’re using a lot of our own energy,” but said the American presence in the region was still robust.
(With agency inputs)