The reason behind the seizure of the Maersk Tigris containership by an Iranian Revolutionary Guard naval patrol on Tuesday is said to be related to an alleged unresolved cargo claim.
“We have been in contact with the Iranian authorities – the Ports & Maritime Organization. They informed us that the seizure of Maersk Tigris is related to an allegedly unresolved cargo claim.
We have however not received any written notification or similar pertaining to the claim or the seizure of the vessel. We are therefore not able to confirm whether or not this is the actual reason behind the seizure. We will continue our efforts to obtain more information,” Maersk Line told World Maritime News in an emailed statement.
According to Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, the containership was arrested pursuant to an order by the Legal Court of Tehran and stopped after being transferred to Shahid Bahonar Port area in Bandarabbas Port.
“The verdict was issued according to the legal claim by a private company named Pars Talaee Oil Production Company against Maersk shipping,” the port organization said, adding that, following an appeals procedure, a final verdict was issued ordering Maersk Lines to pay for the financial loss to the plaintiff.
“This verdict has been notified to Port and Maritime Organization as the maritime authority and was implemented by the operational forces. It has to be mentioned that this issue has a legal aspect and attributing it to political issues could be due to unawareness of the regulations and the case,” the organization added.
The debt in question is said to be almost a decade old and relates to a cargo that had never arrived, Iranian news agency Tasnim reported.
Around 24 people are reported to be aboard the Marshall Islands-flagged containership that was fired at by Iranian patrol boats as a sign of warning before being intercepted in the Strait of Hormuz.
Maersk informed yesterday that based on the latest update from Rickmers Shipmanagement, manager of the ship, the crew remains safe and – under the circumstances – in good spirits.
Speaking before a New York audience on Wednesday Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif voiced the country’s respect of freedom of navigation in the Gulf.
“The Persian Gulf is our lifeline … We will respect international navigation,” Zarif is quoted as saying by Reuters. “For us, freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf is a must.”
Even though the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, “innocent passage” is applied and vessels are authorised to transit so long as they abide by all the rules of the sea, as it is an internationally recognised shipping lane.
Based on Marine traffic’s latest vessel tracking data, the 2014-built Maersk Tigris is at anchor in the Persian Gulf, around 7 nautical miles off Bandar Abbas.
Maersk Tigris is a time-charter (T/C) vessel managed and crewed by Rickmers Shipmanagement, “on-hire” with Maersk Line and deployed in Maersk Line’s ME3 service (Black Sea – Persian Gulf).
World Maritime News Staff; Image: Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization