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Russian, Indian, Latvian, Filipino Nationals Aboard UK-Flagged Oil Tanker Seized by IRGC

© AP Photo / Vahid SalemiIranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat moves in the Persian Gulf near an oil tanker (File)
Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat moves in the Persian Gulf near an oil tanker (File) - Sputnik International
The UK-flagged Stena Imperio oil tanker was seized earlier on Friday during a passage through the Strait of Hormuz while in international waters. According to the cargo vessel owner Stena Bulk, there are 23 crew aboard the seized ship.

A representative for the company said Friday that there were 3 Russian nationals aboard the UK-flagged oil tanker. The company said earlier that it was unable to establish contact with the vessel and that it is maintaining close contact with UK authorities.

Later on Saturday, the operator of the seized vessel said that the crew also comprised Indian, Latvian and Filipino nationals.

"There are 23 seafarers onboard of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationality [...] There have been no reported injuries and the safety and welfare of our crew remains our primary focus", Erik Hanell, President and Chief Executive of the operator Stena Bulk said, cited by Reuters.

Northern Marine Management said on Saturday the ship was no longer under the control of the crew.

"Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management can confirm that Swedish-owned, vessel Stena Impero (built 2018, 49,683 DWT) is no longer under the control of the crew and remains uncontactable [...] The vessel was in full compliance with all navigation and international regulations", Northern Marine Management said in a statement, refuting Iran’s reported claims that the ship had been seized due to violations of international norms.

According to British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Iran has allegedly seized two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. The first vessel was flagged in the UK, the second ship has the flag of Liberia. There were reportedly no British citizens on either vessel.

Meanwhile, The Russian Embassy in Tehran said Saturday it had been informed by the owner of a vessel seized in the Strait of Hormuz that there were three Russian nationals on board the tanker.

"The ship owner's representative has confirmed the information about three Russian seafarers being on board [the seized vessel] [...] The embassy will continue clarifying all the circumstances of what has happened", the embassy spokesman, Andrei Ganenko, said.

Earlier on Friday, Iranian media reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz after it allegedly violated international regulations.

The security situation in the Persian Gulf and adjacent areas has been steadily worsening over the past few months. In May, four oil tankers were targeted in sabotage attacks off the UAE coast. In June, two more oil tankers were hit by explosions in the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Gulf of Oman with the Persian Gulf. The United States blamed Iran for the incidents and started building up its military presence in the Gulf.

Shortly after, the IRGC claimed to have downed a US surveillance drone in its airspace over the coastal Hormozgan province. The US Central Command said that the drone had been operating and was shot down while transiting international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. Following the incident, US President Donald Trump said the United States was ready for retaliatory strikes on Iran before later calling them off, claiming they would have been "disproportionate".

Earlier this week, media reported that another UK vessel had been detained by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz after an Iranian supertanker was seized in Gibraltar a week earlier. Iran refuted all allegations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow is seriously concerned about the confrontation between the United States and Iran as it is taking place near borders with Russia and could destabilize the region surrounding Iran.

Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, told reporters on Friday that Moscow is concerned about reports of a seized United Kingdom oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

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