Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said Friday (July 19) it confiscated a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. “The British oil tanker Stena Impero was stopped by the IRGC’s First Division of Navy for not falling in line with maritime rules,” the Iranian forces said in a statement.
It follows Britain’s July 4 seizure of an Iranian flagged oil tanker off Gibraltar, a British overseas territory that abuts southern Spain. The Grace 1 is suspected of smuggling oil to Syria. The 30,000-ton British-flagged ship has been taken to Iran for legal procedures, according to the Corps’ statement. The tanker’s owner and management firm confirmed that they have lost contact with the vessel.
“We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran,” the company announced. “Stena Impero was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters,” it said.
“There are 23 seafarers aboard. There have been no reported injuries and their safety is of primary concern to both owners and managers,” it added. The U.K. Foreign Office said it is “urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation”. In London, there were reports that the government’s emergency response committee, Cobra, has convened. The Ministry of Defence stressed it had ships in the area but could not provide any further details of what had happened.
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27 September, 2019