Iran Says It Seized British Oil Tanker in Strait of Hormuz

July 19, 2019 Updated: July 20, 2019

Update: Iran held up a second oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz on July 19—the Liberian-flagged, British-operated vessel Mesdar—within an hour after having seized the British-flagged oil tanker, Stena Imperio, in the same area.

The owner of the Mesdar said the ship was briefly boarded by armed guards before being allowed to go. It continued its course after being warned over safety and environmental issues and being told to comply with environmental regulations, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Iran has said that it has seized a British oil tanker, according to news reports on July 19.

The Islamic regime’s Revolutionary Guards said it seized the tanker, the Stena Impero, which went off course and went into Iranian territorial waters, the Guardian reported.

The report said it was traveling near the Strait of Hormuz.

HMS Duncan, a Type 45 Destroyer
This undated Ministry of Defence handout shows the HMS Duncan, a Type 45 Destroyer, which will relieve HMS Montrose in the region as Iran threatens to disrupt shipping. (Ben Sutton/Ministry of Defence via AP)

The owners of the ship said in a statement that it was “approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters,” according to the report.

“We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran,” the owners, Stena Bulk, and its manager, Northern Marine, added.

Iran also said that it seized the vessel “at the request of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organization when passing through the Strait of Hormuz, for failing to respect international maritime rules,” reported state-run PressTV.

Britain said it was urgently seeking further information after reports that a British-flagged tanker had taken a turn into Iranian waters.

“We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said on Friday.

Here is Stena Bulk’s full statement:

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.

Northern Marine Management has not been able to establish contact directly with the vessel since it was notified of the incident at approximately 1600 Today, 19th July 2019.
We are in close contact with UK government authorities.

Drone Taken Down

Just a day before, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. Navy took down an Iranian drone near the Strait of Hormuz, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.

“The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, which had closed into a near distance, approximately 1,000 yards,” Trump said July 18 about the incident in the strait that lies between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.

The president was referring to the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship.

USS Boxer (LHD-4) ship sails in the Arabian Sea off Oman
USS Boxer (LHD-4) ship sails in the Arabian Sea off Oman July 17, 2019. Picture taken July 17, 2019. (Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah)

Reuters contributed to this report.

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