The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has taken control of the Stena Imperil after accusing it of “violating international maritime rules”, Iranian media has reported. Stena Bulk, which owns the tanker, confirmed they lost contact with the vessel at about 4pm on Friday after it was approached by “unidentified small crafts and a helicopter”. The ship now appears to be heading north. A company statement said: “There are 23 seafarers aboard. There have been no reported injuries and their safety is of primary concern to both owners and managers.
Where was the Stena Impero ship seized? How will UK respond?
The UK-registered ship was travelling through the Strait of Hormuz when it was captured.
It was bound for the port of Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia after leaving the United Arab Emirates on Friday.
The Strait of Hormuz is a strategic shipping route between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman responsible for one-fifth of oil seafaring journeys.
The UK Government says it is “urgently” investigating the claims and its emergency committee, Cobra, is meeting now.
A spokeswoman from the UK’s Ministry of Defence said: “We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf.”
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson tweeted: “These reports are a matter of real concern. We know that some days ago there was an attempt to steer a British tanker towards Iranian waters.
“Our ships have the right of safe passage and the Stena Impero must be allowed to continue its voyage unimpeded.
“Any move to seize a British tanker would be a significant and harmful escalation of a situation where de-escalation is needed.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office has yet to comment.
The Strait of Hormuz has been at the centre of increased tensions in recent weeks as a war of words escalates between the United States and Iran.
Tehran downed an American drone over the shipping route in June after accusing the White House of entering its country’s territory.