Iran has released seven Indians onboard the impounded UK tanker Stena Impero. The Stena Impero was detained by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps when it passed through international waters in the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway that connects the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. The Guards had detained the vessel on July 19 on grounds of ‘violating international maritime rules.’ It was brought to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where it remains at anchor.
As per a news report, the UK stated that a Royal Navy frigate deployed in the Gulf tried to fix the situation by coming to the tanker's aid and warned the Iranians by radio that their actions were illegal. However, it was unable to reach the location in time.
Stena Bulk, the tanker’s Swedish operator, expressed concern about the welfare of the crew. It said that they had been able to maintain limited communication with the crew in the previous month and that everybody was in good health “considering the circumstances."
The Iranian Foreign Ministry's spokesman Abbas Mousavi, on Wednesday, had informed the media that the ship's captain had selected seven members of its crew to be released. Later, he had also said that they had left the vessel and the final procedures were underway to send them back to their country. He mentioned that the decision had been made in line with Iran's "humanitarian policies."
Speaking to the media, he also said that the Iranian authorities had no problem with the crew or captain of the ship. They were only concerned with the alleged violations that were committed by the vessel. The fate of the remaining 16 members is, however, yet to be known.
Meanwhile, Stena Bulk made it clear that there was no evidence that Impero had violated any maritime rules and that it was very confident about the professionalism and code of conduct of the crew members.
In another case that happened last month, an Iranian tanker was detained in Gibraltar with the help of the Royal Marines, after it was suspected of violating EU sanctions on Syria. It was later released on 15th August.