• Thursday, June 13, 2024

ASIA

24 Indian crew on US-bound tanker seized by Iran

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

A US-bound oil tanker seized by Iranian commandos had 24 Indian crew on board, its operator said on Friday (28), adding it was working to secure their release.

Footage aired by Iranian state television showed navy commandos dropping down from a helicopter onto the deck of the Advantage Sweet which Tehran said it seized Thursday (27) after an alleged collision with one of its vessels off the coast of Oman.

Past experience shows that crew caught up in similar incidents are in “no danger”, the ship’s operator, Advantage Tankers said.

The Marshall Islands-flagged vessel was being taken to port by Iran’s navy because of an “international dispute”, the operator said in a statement.

“Similar experiences show that crew members of vessels taken under such circumstances are in no danger,” it said, adding that the company was “in close touch with all the appropriate authorities to obtain the release of the crew and vessel”.

Iran said the tanker had crashed into one of its vessels, leaving two Iranian crew members missing and injuring several others.

It said it tried to make contact with the tanker to ask it to stop but it did not respond, prompting the seizure.

The US Navy demanded the ship’s immediate release, slamming Iran’s “continued harassment” in Gulf waters.

The vessel had picked up oil from Kuwait and was chartered by Chevron Corp, an Advantage Tankers spokesperson said. It was bound for Houston, Texas, according to the MarineTraffic tracking website.

Thursday’s seizure was the latest incident in the sensitive waters of the Gulf, which carry about a third of the world’s seaborne oil.

Such incidents have grown more frequent since 2018 when the US withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and major powers and reimposed crippling sanctions. Marathon efforts to restore the deal have stalled.

The latest seizure came only days after Western governments toughened sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

(AFP)

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