Iranian media reported yesterday that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized a “foreign oil tanker” on July 31. Images on state media however show the ship to be an offshore support vessel. The unnamed Iraqi vessel was allegedly “smuggling fuel to some Arab countries”. It has been reported that 700,000 litres of product have been seized along with seven crewmembers of different nationalities. The vessel and its crew have been transferred to Bushehr.
This incident bears similarities with the seizure of the Panama-flagged products tanker Riah, seized for alleged fuel smuggling on July 14 near Larak Island.
Iran also arrested the Stena Impero product tanker on July 19, claiming the ship had been involved in a collision, something the vessel’s owner, Stena Bulk, has strenuously denied.
Iran is now holding 33 seafarers from across the world, something that has sparked many of the world’s top shipping organisations to issue a joint statement.
“Freedom of navigation is vital for global trade and is a fundamental principle of international maritime law. Seafarers and ships must be allowed to operate in safety, and it is simply not acceptable for them to be used as bargaining counters in any way,” said Guy Platten, the secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping.
— Press TV (@PressTV) August 4, 2019