The crew of a British-flagged oil tanker, including 18 Indians, that had been captured by Iran are safe, the ship’s Swedish owner said on Wednesday after making contact with them for the first time, BBC reported. The ship, Stena Impero, had been seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in the Strait of Hormuz on July 20.
The vessel’s owner, Stena Bulk, had contacted the crew on Tuesday and had spoken to the ship’s master who said they were safe and in good cooperation with the Iranians on board. The crew’s family, who are Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino, were being kept updated on the developments and has been given complete support by the ship’s owners.
“We do of course appreciate this step of development and that this is a first sign that we will soon see more positive progress from the Iranian authorities.” said Erik Hanell, the president and chief executive officer of Stena Bulk in a statement. A spokesperson of the company said that the next step would be to check up on the crew, but there was no tentative timeline for when they would be repatriated.
Meanwhile, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani hinted at releasing the tanker if the United Kingdom released their tanker in Gibraltar. “If Britain steps away from the wrong actions in Gibraltar, they will receive an appropriate response from Iran,” Al Jazeera quoted him as saying in a weekly Cabinet meeting.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Friday seized the tanker with 23 crew members for allegedly violating international maritime regulations. This came after the Iranian Grace-1 oil tanker was seized on July 4 by Royal Gibraltar Police after being suspected to have broken European Union sanctions by transporting oil to Syria.