One British tanker released by Iran

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One of the two British tankers seized by Iranian forces on Friday has been released and allowed to continue its journey.

On the the incidents, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said there will be “serious consequences” if Iran does not release a British-flagged tanker seized in the Gulf.

The Stena Impero’s owners say they have been unable to contact their vessel, which had 23 personnel on board and was “heading north towards Iran”.

Iranian media reported Stena Impero had been seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The Tasnim news agency quoted the Ports and Maritime Organisation of Iran as saying: “We received some reports on the British oil tanker, Stena Impero, causing problems.

“We asked the military forces to guide this tanker towards Bandar Abbas port to have the required investigations carried out.”

It was surrounded by four vessels and a helicopter, Hunt said.

A second British-owned Liberian-flagged tanker was boarded by armed guards but is now free to continue its journey.

The Mesdar’s Glasgow-based operator Norbulk Shipping UK said communication had been re-established with the vessel after it was boarded by armed guards on Friday and its crew was “safe and well”.

There were 25 personnel on board the Mesdar when it was surrounded by 10 speedboats, Hunt said.

In the meantime Gibraltar’s Supreme Court granted a 30 days extension to detain the Iranian oil supertanker Grace 1 intercepted by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar’s police in the Strait of Gibraltar, which has been held for two weeks on suspicion it was transporting crude oil to a refinery in Syria against the EU restrictions.

Four members of the tanker’s crew, including the captain, were arrested but released on bail last week.

Following an emergency Cobra meeting Friday evening, a British government spokeswoman said: “We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s unacceptable actions which represent a clear challenge to international freedom of navigation.

“We have advised UK shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period.

“As the foreign secretary has said, our response will be considered and robust and there will be serious consequences if the situation is not resolved.

“We remain in close contact with our international partners and there will be further meetings over the weekend.”

 

Via BBC/Sky News

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