Iran Seizes British Tankers In The Persian Gulf
On Friday evening 19th July IRGC forces seized two vessels that had connections to the United Kingdom resulting in both vessels being detained. One of the vessels was later released after briefly being detained by Iran. On both detained vessels there were no UK citizens.
The Stena Impero the UK flagged oil tanker that was heading from Fujairah UAE to Al Jubail Saudi Arabia suddenly made share change in course and started to head for Iran. The vessel is registered in the United Kingdom but owned/managed by a subsidiary of a Swedish company Stena Bulk. Shortly after the vessel had entered Iranian waters the UK Ministry Of Defence announced they were aware of the movement of the tanker.
Not long after this confirmation came from Iranian state TV that they had seized the vessel. The company went on the release a statement saying that the vessel had been taken during its transit of the Strait Of Hormuz. They stated that the vessel was approached by speedboats & a helicopter when it was seized. While this is already a violation of maritime law, this is further compounded by the fact that if we look at where the vessel turned that indicates the area it was taken. It points out that it wasn’t seized in Iranian waters, further making Iran’s arguments and position for taking the vessel even weaker. In total on the Stena Impero there were 23 crew members of varying nationalities. HMS Montrose did arrive in the area later on but was too late to prevent or do anything about the vessel as it was well into Iranian waters by the time they were in the area.
While all this was going on a 2nd tanker Mesdar made a change in course while in Iranian waters. Mesdar is a Liberian flagged tanker, however, it is also owned/managed by a UK company. The vessel began heading to an Iranian port where it was detained by Iranian authorities
Shortly after this while both vessels were being held it was reported that crew onboard two seized vessels are a mixture of Russian, Ukrainian, Indian, Latvian and Filipino. Following this, a statement came out from the IRGC confirming that they had detained a 2nd tanker. News then emerged from the UK government that foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt would chair a 2nd Cobra meeting in response to the developing situation. Something to take note of about this meeting is that Theresa May is not on tonight’s Cobra meeting, not even by secure videolink. The tanker Mesdar was then noted to be moving away from its last position. Media then confirmed that the ship was released after having warnings about environmental regulations. The Cobra meeting confirmed that all UK shipping is to stay away from the Strait of Hormuz after the incident