The British tanker Stena Impero, seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Friday
UPDATE 1930 GMT:
Quoting the Revolutionary Guards, Iranian media say a second British tanker, the MV Mesdar, has been seized.
A US official echoed the report.
A tracking service showed the Liberian-flagged MV Mesdar slowing before turning sharply toward Iran.
Stena Impero Management, the owner of the first seized tanker, said it was “approached” about 4 pm “by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters”.
The company said of the 23 crew: “There have been no reported injuries and their safety is of primary concern to both owners and managers.”
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was “extremely concerned” and would convene a meeting of the Cabinet’s Cobra committee.
He said there were no UK citizens aboard either tanker and added:
Our ambassador in Tehran is in contact with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve the situation and we are working closely with international partners.
These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have seized a UK oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Guards said in a statement on Friday that the Stena Impero was board “at the request of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organization when passing through the Strait of Hormuz, for failing to respect international maritime rules”.
Iran’s military commanders and officials, including the Supreme Leader, have threatened retaliation for the UK’s seizure of an Iranian supertanker in Gibraltar’s waters on July 4. The Grace 1, carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil, was intercepted at the mouth of the Mediterranean, having taken the long route around the southern tip of Africa.
The UK said the Grace 1 was breaking European Union sanctions on oil deliveries to Syria’s Assad regime. The Revolutionary Guards denied the supertanker was en route to the port of Baniyas in western Syria.
Last week Guards speedboats failed to intercept a British tanker when the Royal Navy’s HMS Melrose intervened.
The Guards denied that they were trying to seize the British Heritage, owned by the oil company BP, but commander Adm. Ali Fadavi said the UK and US would soon “seriously regret” the impoundment of the Iranian supertanker.
On Thursday, Iran confirmed that it had taken a tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, claiming it was smuggling one million liters of oil out of the Islamic Republic. Authorities did not name the vessel, but Iranian State TV showed speedboats surrounding the Panama-flagged, UAE-based Riah last weekend.