San Francisco: A representative of Singapore-based Rickmers Shipmanagement was allowed on board the seized containership Maersk Tigris to see the 24-man crew on Thursday.
They confirmed that the personnel – comprising mostly eastern Europeans and Asians, plus a Briton – were safe and in good condition considering the circumstances. Rickmers, which was granted access after making an urgent request to Iranian authorities, manages the ship and provided the crew.
The Maersk Tigris (62,292 dwt, built 2014) was apprehended in the Strait of Hormuz by the Iranian navy on Tuesday and taken to the Iranian island of Qeshm where it has been at anchor since.
Statements on Thursday by Maersk Group seemed to confirm that the seizure is related to a 10-year-old commercial dispute.
In the 2005 case, Maersk delivered 10 containers to Dubai but they were not claimed within 90 days and so were disposed of by the UAE authorities. The Iranian client went to court in Iran to claim for the lost cargo and the court made a $3.6m judgment in their favour.
On Wednesday Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said his country’s naval forces were acting under a court order when they fired a broadside and boarded the cargo ship.
The extra details on the commercial motivation behind this affair undercut earlier speculation that the incident was a geopolitical provocation of the US by Iran’s military, because of the conflict in Yemen.
A US navy destroyer has been deployed to the vicinity to monitor the situation. The US has defence commitments to Marshall