In a major development, MoS External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Thursday informed that all 24 Indian crew aboard Grace 1 have been released by London. Taking to Twitter, the MoS External Affairs stated that he spoke to Indian High Commissioner in London over the VLCC Grace 1 and all 24 Indians crew members who were on board the ship have been released by the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority and are free to return to India.
The Grace 1, carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude, was seized earlier in July, in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar. The vessel was suspected of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, and its seizure deepened tensions in the Persian Gulf. However, shortly after the detention of the Grace 1, Iran seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero. The boats were seized amid ongoing tensions between Iran and the US since Washington began reimposing sanctions on Tehran.
Earlier on July 25, Iran had released nine out of 12 Indians who were on board the ship MT Riah that was detained amid the face-off. While the Indians on board 'Grace 1' were not released immediately, Indian officials had met the 24 Indian crew members and assured them that the government will take necessary steps to ensure their release and repatriation, the External Affairs Ministry had said on July 25.
(With agency inputs)