Iran announces capture of British oil tanker; US officials say two have been seized

Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz

Iran announced the capture of one British ship in the narrow Strait of Hormuz today, and US officials say that a second has also been seized.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on Friday that its navy had captured the British-flagged oil tanker, Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV. The IRGC accused the tanker of “violating international regulations,” to Press TV.

In a statement, the Stena Impero’s owner Stena Bulk and operator Northern Marine Management said that at approximately 4 pm BST (12 pm ET) the 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.”
There are 23 seafarers aboard the ship, they added, saying that they have are currently unable to make contact with the vessel, which is now heading north towards Iran.

Claims of a second ship being seized

The Stena Impero and Mesdar Crude Oil Tanker are believed to be heading heading towards Iran.

Owners of the Stena Impero say they are unable to contact crew onboard.

The second ship is operated by Norbulk Shipping UK Ltd.

It is unknown how many people were aboard the Mesdar ship.

Iran has reportedly said at least one of tankers was seized after it turned off its tracker and ignored warnings.

The Ministry of Defence says it is urgently seeking information about the unfolding incident.

A meeting of the Government’s emergency committee, Cobra, is believed to be underway.

A second Cobra meeting has also been scheduled for 22:30 and will be chaired by Jeremy Hunt, according to Sky News.

Iranian state TV has said authorities seized the Stena Impero, Reuters reports

It is understood there are no Brits on board the Stena Impero and the crew included those of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationalities.

According to reports in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard surrounded the tanker because it did “not following international maritime regulations”.

The vessel was shown on tracking systems taking a sudden turn in the Gulf, having been headed to Saudi Arabia.

The company that owns the vessel said it was approached by “unidentified small crafts” and a helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz.

In a statement Northern Marine Management said: “We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.

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