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.