A BRITISH oil tanker with 23 crew on board has been seized by Iranian troops in the Gulf, the country’s state TV said.
The Ministry of Defence said it is “urgently” seeking further information after the Stena Impero was halted in the Strait of Hormuz by what the ship’s owners called a “hostile action”.
Iranian state-controlled TV claimed its Revolutionary Guard had seized the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz and claimed it was “violating international maritime rules”.
Northern Marine, a subsidiary of Stena AB, confirmed “hostile action” had occurred before the 183m-long tanker changed its course this afternoon.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt is believed to have been briefed on the incident in the Gulf.
A statement from the ship’s owner and management firm said: “Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management can confirm that at approximately 1600 BST on 19th July UK registered vessel Stena Impero was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters.
“We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.
“There are 23 seafarers aboard. There have been no reported injuries and their safety is of primary concern to both owners and managers.
“The priority of both vessel owner Stena Bulk and ship manager Northern Marine Management is the safety and welfare of the crew.”
Just a few days ago Iran’s supreme leader had threatened Britain with retaliation over what he described as the “vicious” seizure of an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar by UK forces.
Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Britain of “piracy” after the Royal Marines seized a supertanker believed to be carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria on July 4.
He has called for the immediate release of the oil tanker Grace 1, which was detained on suspicion it was breaking European sanctions by taking oil to Syria.
In a TV speech, the Ayatollah said: “Evil Britain commits piracy and steals our ship and gives it a legal appearance.
“Iran and those who believe in our system will not leave such vicious deeds unanswered.”
An Iranian bomb boat was found in the path of a British warship racing to the Gulf just two days ago.
HMS Duncan could have been destroyed by the unmanned attack ship packed with explosives, according to reports.
It comes as the UK is sending three ships to the Gulf.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard also seized another oil tanker on Sunday, the Panama-flagged MT Riah.
The country later released a video showing the troops in speedboats seizing the tanker along with 12 members which it accused of smuggling oil.
The unverified video shows the moment two speedboats circulating the Panama-flagged MT Riah.
The foreign oil tanker was reportedly then seized shortly after being surrounded in stormy waters.
More to follow…
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