Iranian Government has decided to release seven of the 23 crew members held on the detained tanker Stena Impero, according to the ship’s operator Stena Bulk.
The company said that its request to remove non-essential personnel from the vessel is now being acted upon and that arrangements are underway for the release of the seven seafarers, that include five Indian, a Latvian and a Russian national.
“While we welcome this positive development, we have not received confirmation of a release date directly from the Iranian authorities,” Stena Bulk said.
“We view this communication as a positive step on the way to the release of all the remaining crew, which has always been our primary concern and focus,” Erik Hanell, President and CEO, Stena Bulk, noted.
Media reports cited an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, as saying that the seafarers have already left the British-flagged tanker. Mousavi reportedly said that the crew members left the vessel and the final procedures are underway to send them back to their countries.
Sixteen crew members will remain on board according to the vessel’s Minimum Safe Manning Certificate (MSMC). After it was detained, Stena Impero was brought to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where it remains at anchor.
The Swedish-owned vessel was seized in the Strait of Hormuz in July, only weeks after the Royal Marines and Gibraltar authorities detained the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, off Gibraltar due to suspicions of violating European Union sanctions on Syria.
Gibraltar released the supertanker Grace 1 on August 15 after receiving written assurance from Iran that the ship’s destination would not be an entity subject to EU sanctions. Since then the tanker’s route took it some 50 nautical miles off Tartus, Syria, where it appears to have turned off its transponder 15:53 GMT on Monday, data provided by MarineTraffic shows.
The 300,579 dwt unit, at the center of a dispute between Tehran and Western powers, was identified as “blocked property” by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on August 30.
World Maritime News Staff