‘Growing concern’ for Stena Impero tanker crew captured by Iran

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The Stena Impero impounded at the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. (Maxar Technologies via AP)
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Crew members of the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero, after it was seized by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. (AFP / IRIB)
Updated 31 July 2019

‘Growing concern’ for Stena Impero tanker crew captured by Iran

  • The Stena Impero was captured on July 19 with 23 people on board as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz
  • Stena Bulk chief urges 'swift resolution so our 23 valued seafarers can return to their families'

LONDON: The owner of the British tanker seized by Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz said Tuesday they are increasingly concerned about the crew’s welfare.

The Stena Impero was captured on July 19 with 23 people on board as it passed through the waterway under the watch of a British warship.

The ship was impounded at the southern port of Bandar Abbas for allegedly breaking “international maritime rules.” Other Iranian officials said the seizure was in retaliation for British forces capturing an Iranian tanker accused of carrying oil to Syria.

The Stena Impero’s owners, Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management, said it has growing concern for the welfare of the crew confined to the vessel.

“With little progress being made since the vessel was seized on 19 July, we urge governments involved to find a swift resolution so our 23 valued seafarers can return to their families and move on from this ordeal,” Stena Bulk’s president and chief executive Erik Hanell.

“We reiterate that there is no evidence of a collision involving the Stena Impero, and at the time of the seizure the vessel was well within the inbound traffic separation scheme and out-with Iranian territorial waters.”

The company said all required navigational equipment was fully functioning and in compliance with maritime regulations.

The crew members are Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino. Stena Bulk said last week that they were all safe.

The seizure of the ship came after months of tensions in the Gulf between the US and its allies, and Iran. Washington ramped up sanctions against Tehran after Donald Trump withdrew last year from an international deal to restrict Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran is accused of carrying out a series of attacks on ships near the Strait of Hormuz as a calculated response to its oil exports being reduced to a trickle by the tough sanctions.

On Monday, the UK ruled out swapping the two oil tankers, and accused Iran of breaking international law.

A second British warship arrived in the Gulf to help secure passage for ships transiting the strait.


Trump gives dramatic account of Soleimani’s last minutes before death: CNN

Updated 44 min 21 sec ago

Trump gives dramatic account of Soleimani’s last minutes before death: CNN

  • The president spoke at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, at a Republican event
  • CNN said it obtained an audio recording of Trump’s remarks

PALM BEACH, Florida: US President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the US drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.
With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.
The president spoke in a ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, at a Republican event that raised $10 million for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign and for the Republican National Committee.
Reporters were not allowed in for the event. CNN said it obtained an audio recording of Trump’s remarks. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Jan. 3 killing of Soleimani at Baghdad airport prompted Iran to retaliate with missile strikes against US forces in Iraq days later and almost triggered a broad war between the two countries.
“They’re together sir,” Trump said military officials told him. “Sir, they have two minutes and 11 seconds. No emotion. ‘Two minutes and 11 seconds to live, sir. They’re in the car, they’re in an armored vehicle. Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. Thirty seconds. Ten, 9, 8 ...’ “
“Then all of a sudden, boom,” he said. “’They’re gone, sir. Cutting off.’“
“I said, where is this guy?” Trump continued. “That was the last I heard from him.”
It was the most detailed account that Trump has given of the drone strike, which has drawn criticism from some US lawmakers because neither the president nor his advisers have provided public information to back up their statements that Soleimani presented an “imminent” threat to Americans in the region.
CNN said that in the audio, Trump did not repeat that Soleimani was an imminent threat. Trump said Soleimani was “saying bad things about our country” before the strike, which led to his decision to authorize his killing.