Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

Detained UK-tanker crew in 'high spirits' after Dubai arrival from Iran

'Stena Impero' anchored off Port Rashid for crew debriefing before returning home after 10-week ordeal

Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, is seen at undisclosed place off the coast of Bandar Abbas, Iran. Reuters
Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, is seen at undisclosed place off the coast of Bandar Abbas, Iran. Reuters

The British-flagged vessel at the centre of a diplomatic standoff, after it was seized by Iranian forces in July, is in Dubai.

The Stena Impero tanker is now anchored off Port Rashid, Dubai Maritime City, after being held for almost three months by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

Ship-tracking data confirmed the tanker left Bandar Abbas port in Iran on Friday, arriving in Dubai later that evening.

Of the vessel’s 23-man crew, seven have already been released by Iranian authorities.

“The master has reported all crew members are safe and in high spirits following their release,” said Erik Hanell, president and chief executive of Stena Bulk, the Swedish company that owns the vessel.

“The crew will receive medical checks and debriefing by the company, following which arrangements have been made for them to return directly to their families in their respective countries.

“Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management would like to take this opportunity to praise the crew for their professionalism in the handling of this difficult and stressful situation.

“Also, to their families who maintained a caring and supportive role throughout, the importance of which cannot be over stated.

“The crew will have a period of time to be with their families following 10 weeks of detainment on the vessel.

“Full support will be offered to them in the coming weeks to assist their recovery.”

Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management have not released the names of the crew.

The ship was commandeered in the Strait of Hormuz waterway two months ago for alleged marine violations two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian super tanker, the Grace 1, off the territory of Gibraltar.

Government officials in Gibraltar said the Grace 1 was heading to the Syrian port of Tartous, where it was due to offload 2.1 million barrels of crude oil - in breach of sanctions laid down by the European Union against President Bashar Al Assad.

The 183-metre Stena Impero had been en route to Saudi Arabia when it was boarded by armed guards and detained on July 19. It had previously called into port at Houston and Kandla, India.

In this image made from video, the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero is seen outside Port Rashid in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. On Friday, Iran released the Stena Impero which it had seized in July as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all oil passes. The ship set sail from Iran Friday morning, arriving at an anchorage outside Dubai’s Port Rashid in the United Arab Emirates just before midnight. (AP Photo)
The British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero is seen outside Port Rashid in Dubai on September 28, 2019. AP Photo

Iran claimed the oil tanker had been sailing in the wrong channel and collided with a fishing boat.

“We wish to take this opportunity to thank all authorities who have assisted over the past 10 weeks in securing the release of the vessel,” said Mr Hannell.

“In particular we would like to recognise the efforts of the Swedish Foreign Ministry throughout this incident and also the support from various UK Government departments, co-ordinated by the Department for Transport’s maritime division.

“We are grateful for the consular visits on board from the embassies of India, Russia, Latvia and the Philippines.”

Updated: September 29, 2019 09:33 AM

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