Iran Guards say they have confiscated a British tanker

Iran SEIZES a British tanker in the Gulf after claiming it ‘failed to respect maritime rules’

  • The Stena Impero was seized in the Strait of Hormuz at 4pm BST by Iran
  • The British-registered tanker was ordered to turn to the north by Iranian forces
  • The tanker was heading towards the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia 
  • UK Officials said they lost contact with the 23 crew following the incident 

Iran has seized a British-registered oil tanker with 23 crew in the Strait of Hormuz. 

The Stena Impero was passing through the bottle neck into the Persian Gulf when it turned dramatically to the north at 4pm, UK time. 

The vessel was surrounded by heavily-armed small craft and a helicopter and ordered to turn north.  

The Stena Impero oil tanker has been seized by Iranian authorities while passing through the Strait of Hormuz this evening

The Stena Impero was surrounded by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces at 16:00 BST and ordered to head north. The British registered vessel switched off its maritime tracker a short time later

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard uses a large number of high-speed small vessels to harass shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. The regime launched these ‘ultra-fast’ boats in 2010

The vessel had left Fujairah in Dubai and moved into the Strait of Hormuz when it was intercepted. 

According to Iranian state TV, the Stena Impero tanker ‘was confiscated by the Revolutionary Guards at the request of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organisation when passing through the strait of Hormuz, for failing to respect international maritime rules.’ 

The Foreign Office said it was seeking further information about the fate of the vessel and its crew. 

It is understood the British-flagged tanker was surrounded by small craft and helicopters and ordered to turn north into Iranian waters.   

A statement from Stena Bulk, the company which owns the tanker, said the firm had lost contact with the crew of 23 after it was approached by ‘unidentified small crafts and a helicopter’ at around 4pm.

This image, released from Iranian state TV shows Revolutionary Guard speedboats harrying a Panamanian oil tanker on July 14

The statement said: ‘Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management can confirm that at approximately 1600 BST on 19th July UK registered vessel Stena Impero (built 2018, 49,683 DWT) was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters.

‘We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.

‘There are 23 seafarers aboard. There have been no reported injuries and their safety is of primary concern to both owners and managers.

‘The priority of both vessel owner Stena Bulk and ship manager Northern Marine Management is the safety and welfare of the crew.’

An Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf.’

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has a large number of heavily-armed speed boats which it can use to harass shipping in the Strait of Hormuz (file picture from July 2012

The UK Chamber of Shipping demanded extra protection for merchant vessels operating in the Persian Gulf. 

Bob Sanguinetti, CEO of the Chamber said: ‘We condemn unreservedly the capture of Stena Impero as she transited the Strait of Hormuz earlier today.

‘This incident represents an escalation. Whilst we call for measured response, it is also clear that further protection for merchant vessels must be forthcoming to ensure enhanced security to guarantee free flow of trade in the region.’

The incident came as Iran and the United States emphatically disagreed Friday over Washington’s claim that a U.S. warship downed an Iranian drone near the Persian Gulf. American officials said they used electronic jamming to bring down the unmanned aircraft, while Iran said it simply didn’t happen.

Neither side provided evidence to prove its claim.

At the White House on Friday, President Donald Trump said flatly of the Iranian drone: ‘We shot it down.’ But Pentagon and other officials have said repeatedly that the USS Boxer, a Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, actually jammed the drone’s signal, causing it to crash, and did not fire a missile. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive technology.

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said, ‘There is no question this was an Iranian drone, and the USS Boxer took it out as the president announced yesterday because it posed a threat to the ship and its crew. It’s entirely the right thing to do.’

In Tehran, the Iranian military said all its drones had returned safely to their bases and denied there was any confrontation with the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship.

Timeline of tensions rising in Persian Gulf 

May 12: Four commercial oil tankers attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Washington accuses Tehran, which denies all involvement. 

June 13: A Japanese and Norwegian fuel tanker are hit by mysterious blasts while passing through the Strait of Hormuz. Again, Iran denies involvement.  

June 14: U.S. Military releases video ‘proving’ Iranian involvement in the earlier attacks. 

June 20: Iran downs a $130m US surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz

Iranian Revolutionary Guards shoot down a $130million US surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz. 

July 4: Royal Marines Commandos detain the Grace 1 Iranian tanker in Gibraltar which is accused of busting EU Syrian sanctions

July 11: Iran tries to interfere with a UK-registered tanker but is warned off by the Royal Navy.  

July 14: Iran seizes the Panama-flagged ‘Riah’.  

July 18: The USS Boxer shoots down an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz which it claimed was endangering the vessel.   

July 19: Iran seizes British-flagged ‘Stena Impero’.

 

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