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Iran releases images of detained Stena Impero crew as UK readies response

Iranian authorities have said the 23 crew of the Stena Impero detained in the port of Bandar Abbas since Friday are okay. The UK-flagged ship owned by Stena Bulk was seized by Iranian special forces while transiting international waters in the Strait of Hormuz, likely in retaliation for Gibraltar, a British sovereign territory, arresting an Iranian VLCC earlier this month.

The president of Stena Bulk, Erik Hanell, said yesterday that a formal request for permission to visit the 23 crewmembers had been made to the authorities at the Port of Bandar Abbas. The company has yet to get a formal response from the port.

With 18 of the 23 crew, including the master, listed as Indian nationals, New Delhi has also called on Tehran to free the crew.

All British ships have been told by the UK government to avoid transiting the Strait of Hormuz for an indefinite period. A day before she steps down, UK prime minister Theresa May is set to hold an emergency Cabinet meeting this morning in London to discuss how to respond to the tanker seizure.

Other British ships in the area have resorted to switching their AIS off while transiting in recent days.

Splash also understands that many shipowners are now discussing quitting the UK ship register, a flag that has already been hard hit in recent months with a significant exodus ahead of Brexit.

As well as the Grace 1 in Gibraltar, there have been two other Iranian tankers captured in recent months. One of them, the VLCC Happiness I, which had been stuck in Jeddah after suffering engine failure in April, was released on Saturday.

Splash will be bringing daily updates from the Strait of Hormuz all week.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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