Iranian authorities say the British oil tanker seized in the Strait of Hormuz was involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat and ignored its distress call before capture.
Allah-Morad Afifipoor, head of Ports and Maritime Organization in southern Hormozgan Province, said on Saturday that the 30,000-tonne UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker had “collided with a fishing boat on its route and, according to law, after an accident it is necessary that the causes are investigated.”
Following the collision, those on board the fishing boat “contacted the British vessel but didn’t receive any response,” so they informed the Hormozgan maritime organization “according to the legal procedures,” he added.
Afifipoor also noted that the tanker had been taken to Bandar Abbas port, where it and its crew will remain while probe is carried out into the British vessel’s conduct.
“The investigation into the cause of the accident has been started today,” he said. “All its 23 crew members will remain on the ship until the probe is over.”
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) impounded Stena Impero on Friday when it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz en route to Saudi Arabia “for failing to respect international maritime rules.”
Late on Friday, the British government advised UK ships “to stay out of” the Strait of Hormuz “for an interim period.”
British Foreign Secretary also warned that there will be “serious consequences” if the situation is not resolved.
Tensions broke out between Tehran and London on July 4, after Britain’s naval forces unlawfully seized Iranian-owned oil tanker Grace 1 and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar, under the pretext that the supertanker had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country.
Reports, however, said the confiscation took place at the request of the US.
Tehran has condemned the seizure as “maritime piracy,” warning that it would not go unanswered. It has also rejected London’s claim that the ship had been bound for Syria.