The Iranian National Guard Corps is claiming that is has seized a British oil tanker for violating International maritime law, according to a developing report carried by PressTV.
The vessel, named the Stena Impera, according to the IRGC, was captured while traversing the Strait of Hormuz at the request of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organization “for failing to respect international maritime rules.”
The 30,000 tonne British-flagged Stena Impera took a sudden turn in the Gulf, originally headed toward Saudi Arabia, according to The Mirror. The company who owns the vessel said it had been approached by “unidentified small crafts” as well as a helicopter while in the Strait of Hormuz—which has caused unrest in the oil industry as a third of all seaborne oil must make it through this narrow waterway.
“We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran,” the company said in a statement, adding that there were 23 crew on board at the time of the seizure. The company was adamant that it was in international waters at the time.
Tracking data shows the tanker is on its way to the island of Qeshm.
“Northern Marine Management has not been able to establish contact directly with the vessel since it was notified of the incident at approximately 1600 today, 19th July 2019.”
The UK Ministry of Defence said it was looking into the incident, and that it had ships in the area.
The seizure is likely in retaliation for the Iranian tanker seizure in Gibraltar, which the authorities announced today it would hang onto for another 30 days. Iran has threatened to retaliate if its ship was not released.
This afternoon’s incident follows not even a day after the US reportedly shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait—a claim that Iran denies.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group. More