A number of international shipping associations are calling for an end of the escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf following the seizure of tanker Stena Impero in July this year.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA) have called on the international community to fully respect international law and ensure safe passage of merchant vessels.
“Freedom of navigation is vital for global trade and is a fundamental principle of international maritime law. Seafarers and ships must be allowed to operate in safety, and it is simply not acceptable for them to be used as bargaining counters in any way,” Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General, said.
“The Strait of Hormuz is an important route for European merchant vessels and we strongly urge EU member states to work with Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in order to safeguard this vital passageway,” Martin Dorsman, ECSA Secretary General, added.
The three associations noted that the Stena Impero is a British-flagged vessel, owned by a Swedish company with a multinational crew, and appears to have been detained illegally while transiting an international strait.
“The situation therefore requires a diplomatic solution in order for business to return to normal as soon as possible,” they said in a statement.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) seized Stena Impero on July 19 in what is perceived to be a retaliatory measure after Gibraltar and the UK detained in early July the Iranian tanker Grace 1, which was reportedly supplying crude oil to Syria, a country subject to EU sanctions.
UK-flagged ships are currently being escorted by navy vessels in an attempt to protect the merchant ships from potential attacks.