Iranian state media on July 20 published footage showing naval members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) boarding the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker.
The vessel was seized by the IRGC the day before in the Strait of Hormuz. The footage shows the Stena Impero being approached by several boats and a helicopter before people described by Iranian media as marines drop from a helicopter onto the vessel.
The ship’s owner, Stena Bulk, had said on July 19 that the Stena Impero vessel was “approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter” while in international waters with 23 personnel on board, and was no longer under the control of the crew. Both Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management had lost contact with the tanker, the statement said.
Iran’s port and maritime authority said the vessel was being held at Bandar Abbas port in Hormozgan province and was seized after “reports of violations of international maritime law.”
The UK’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on July 20 said he had expressed “extreme disappointment” during a phone call with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, and said the actions showed “worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilising behaviour.”
Zarif tweeted that Iran’s “action in the Persian Gulf is to uphold international maritime rules,” and said the “UK must cease being an accessory to #EconomicTerrorism of the US.”
The 23 crew of the Stena Impero included Indian, Russian, Latvian, and Filipino nationals, according to both Stena Bulk and Iran’s port and maritime authority. Credit: Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) via Storyful