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VIDEO: Iranian commandos rappel from helicopters to seize British oil tanker

Navy of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution commandos in the Strait of Hormuz, Persian Gulf. Feb. 2015. (sayyed shahab-o- din vajedi/Wikimedia Commons)
July 22, 2019

Video showing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seizing the British oil tanker Stena Impero surfaced on Sunday.

The video shows IRGC speedboats surrounding the Stena Impero and paratroopers rappelling from a helicopter onto the tanker’s deck on Friday while shouting commands at the tanker’s crew.

Iran detained the Stena Impero on Friday, citing security concerns with the ship, which they accused of traveling erratically and striking a fishing boat. 

British naval ship HMS Montrose was some 60 minutes away from the exchange and unable to intervene, rendered powerless to defend the Stena Impero against Iran’s aggressive forces.

Audio released by Dryad Global exposes an Iranian official ordering the British ship to turn around and travel to an Iranian port for inspection despite a British naval officer’s protest, the Associated Press reported Sunday.


“If you obey, you will be safe. Alter your course 3-6-0 degrees immediately,” an Iranian official says.

“Sir, I reiterate that as you are conducting transit passage in a recognized international strait, under international law your passage must not be impaired, intruded, obstructed or hampered,” an unidentified British officer from the HMS Montrose says.

“Please confirm that you are not intending to violate international law by unlawfully attempting to board the MV Stena,” the British officer adds.

“No challenge is intended. I want to inspect the ship for security reasons,” the Iranian official says.

Iran later released video showing some of the Stena Impero’s 23 crew members who were also detained along with the ship.

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

“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 Organization, said, “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 harbor 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.