EghtesadOnline: A British-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz has been taken to a nearby port for further investigations, a senior official said on Saturday, adding that the vessel had caused an accident but ignored distress calls.
“The Stena Impero had collided with a fishing boat on Friday, but did not respond to distress calls,” Allahmorad Afifipour, the head of Ports and Maritime Organization in southern Hormozgan Province, was quoted as saying by ISNA.
The vessel had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia and suddenly changed course after passing through the strait at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, through which a fifth of the world's oil supplies pass, Reuters reported.
The tanker's operator, Stena Bulk, said on Friday the ship had been "in full compliance with all navigation and international regulations", but was no longer under the crew's control and could not be contacted, according to Financial Tribune.
Afifipour said the tanker, which was not carrying any cargo, has been taken to Bandar Abbas Port, situated on Iran's southern coast and facing the strait, for further investigations.
"The 23 crew comprised 18 Indian nationals and five others of other nationalities," he said, adding that they could be interviewed on technical matters.
Britain's Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said on Friday it would respond to the seizure in a "considered but robust" way and was urgently seeking information about the vessel.
Already strained relations between Iran and the West have become increasingly fraught since the British Navy seized Iran's Grace 1 tanker in Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion of violating European sanctions against Syria.
Iran says no EU sanctions are applicable to non-EU member states, but insists that the ship was not headed to Syria. Iran maintains that the Iranian ship was seized on the orders of Washington.
Gibraltar was granted the power on Friday to detain the Grace 1 tanker for another month, keeping the vessel at the center of a big-power quarrel between Iran and the United States and its allies.
Gibraltar denies that it was ordered to detain the vessel, but some diplomatic sources say the United States asked the United Kingdom to seize the vessel, Reuters reported.
Emphasis on Diplomacy
Speaking to reporters, Hunt warned of "serious consequences" if the Stena Impero's situation is not resolved quickly.
Britain was, however, "not looking at military options. We are looking at a diplomatic way to resolve the situation", he said.
US President Donald Trump said he would talk to Britain about Friday's seizure, which drove oil prices up above $62 a barrel.
The United States has blamed Iran for a series of attacks since mid-May on shipping around the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran rejects the allegations.
The incidents have increased international concern that both sides could blunder into a war in the strategic waterway.
Guy Platten, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Shipping, called on all those involved in Friday's shipping incident to seek a swift resolution to the incident that threatened the safety of seafarers.