The owners of the UK-registered Stena Impero tanker, which was seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard while she was passing through the Strait of Hormuz on July 19, have reportedly called on India to help resolve the crisis.
The ship’s 23 crew members remain confined to the vessel and concern for their welfare has been growing. Stena Impero is currently moored off the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, with Iranian officials claiming the ship was “violating international maritime rules” when it was intercepted.
A spokesperson for the ship’s owners told The Telegraph newspaper “there is definitely a role to play for the Indian government”. However, they added that at this stage the situation continues to revolve around the relationship between Britain and Iran.
While Stena Impero is British flagged, 18 of the ship’s crew members are Indian, including its captain. The remainder of the crew is made up of individuals from Russia, the Philippines and Latvia. No Britons were on board. The British government has condemned the vessel’s detention, calling it “an act of state piracy”.
A statement released by Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management on Tuesday said the firms are continuing to work closely with the authorities.
Erik Hanell, President and Chief Executive, Stena Bulk said: “With little progress being made since the vessel was seized on 19th July, we urge governments involved to find a swift resolution so our 23 valued seafarers can return to their families and move on from this ordeal.
“We reiterate that there is no evidence of a collision involving the Stena Impero, and at the time of the seizure the vessel was well within the inbound traffic separation scheme and out-with Iranian territorial waters.
“All required navigational equipment, including transponders, was fully functioning, in compliance with maritime regulations.”
The Telegraph reported that Stena Impero’s owners believe there would be greater interest from the British media if there were British crew on board. The spokesperson also suggested the situation may well turn into a drawn-out diplomatic situation.
The seizure of Stena Impero followed the detention of an Iranian-flagged tanker, Grace 1, at the start of July. A group of 30 Royal Marines supported members of the Royal Gibraltar Police in boarding the vessel. The Gibraltar government said it had reason to believe Grace 1 was bound for Syria with a shipment of Iranian crude oil in contravention of EU sanctions.
Main image: Stena Impero by Morteza Akhoondi/Tasnim News Agency (CC BY 4.0)