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Iran seizes 2nd British oil tanker in same day in Strait of Hormuz int’l waters

Navy of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution commandos and missile boats in Great Prophet IX Maneuver in the general area of Strait of Hormuz, Persian Gulf. (sayyed shahab-o- din vajedi/Wikimedia Commons)
July 19, 2019

Iran has seized a second British oil tanker on Friday, Britain confirmed.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed that Iran seized two British vessels near the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Iran seized Liberian-flagged vessel Mesdar, which is operated by a U.K.-based shipping company, in the Strait of Hormuz’s international waters. The seizure took place just an hour later after the first vessel, British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, was seized in the same area.

Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management, who own and operate the Stena Impero, respectively, released a statement confirming its seizure.

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“Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management can confirm that at approximately 1600 BST on 19th July UK registered vessel Stena Impero (built 2018, 49,683 DWT) 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,” the companies said in a joint statement.

The company noted that there are 23 crew members aboard, and no injuries have been reported so far.

Allahmorad Afifipur, the director general of the Ports and Maritime Organisation, saying: “We received some reports on the British oil tanker, Stena Impero, causing problems, and therefore, we asked the military forces to guide this tanker towards Bandar Abbas harbour to have the required investigations carried out,” according to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.

The Strait of Hormuz is a major international waterway that connects the Gulf of Oman, which opens up the Indian Sea, to the Persian Gulf, or Arabian Gulf, where Iran and Saudi Arabia have large stretches of coastline. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also share coastlines with the Persian Gulf, and Iraq has a small coastline, as well.

Tensions between Iran and Britain have had escalated this month. The British Royal Navy seized an Iranian oil tanker, and Iran has been calling for its release.

And just yesterday, it was reported that Iran had tried to seize a foreign tanker on July 14 with 12 crew members on board.

Earlier in July, several Iranian ships from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tried to stop a British oil tanker and its accompanying frigate as they tried to traverse international waters into the Strait of Hormuz.