Iran confiscates British tanker in Strait of Hormuz – IRGC
Published time: 19 Jul, 2019 18:06
Edited time: 19 Jul, 2019 18:09
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has seized the British oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian media reported. UK authorities said the tanker had ‘veered off course’ before capture.
The Stena Impero was headed to Saudi Arabia but left the international sea lanes and headed north towards the Iranian island of Qeshm, marine tracking data showed on Friday.
BREAKING: The British flagged ‘Stena Impero’ has taken a very sudden turn into Iranian waters despite her original destination being Saudi Arabia, according to data relayed by maritime tracking services. https://t.co/LCkqa5KsLu
— UK Defence Journal (@UKDefJournal) July 19, 2019
The 30,000-ton tanker is owned by Stena Bulk, and was bound for the Saudi port of Al Jubail.
Iranian state TV reported that it was seized by the IRGC naval units for “not following international maritime regulations.”
Stena issued a statement that the ship was “approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz, while the vessel was in international waters.”
The company is “presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.”
UK authorities said they were “assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf.”
Tehran and London have been at odds since July 4, when Royal Marines boarded and seized Iranian tanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar, accusing the ship of illegally transporting oil to Syria. Iranian authorities condemned the seizure as “piracy” and vowed to retaliate.
Six days later, the Royal Navy said its frigate HMS Montrose intervened to prevent several Iranian boats from seizing the UK-flagged tanker British Heritage in the Persian Gulf.
Earlier this week, alarms were raised after the disappearance of the Emirati-based tanker MT Riah, flying the Panamanian flag. Iran said the tanker experienced technical troubles and had been towed to port for repairs.
On Thursday, a US warship entered the Persian Gulf and reportedly shot down an Iranian drone that had approached to within 1,000 meters in a “threatening” manner. Iran has denied losing any drones, however.
Washington has sought to establish a “coalition” of allied navies in the region to ensure “freedom of navigation” in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the most important shipping lanes in the world for oil traffic.