TEHRAN – During the incident which led up to the seizure of the British ship, the Iranian vessel sent a warning signal, “but the British ship ignored it,” explained Iranian authorities.
The Iranian authorities said on July 20th that the British tanker Stena Impero, seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, had hit an Iranian fishing boat before be detained by the IRGC, reports Fars News.
“[The Stena Impero] was involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat… When the boat sent a distress signal, the British flag ship ignored it,” explained Allahmorad Afifipour, head of the Maritime and Ports Organization of the province of Hormozgan.
“The British tanker has hit the [Iranian] fishing boat, this should be investigated,” he added.
It was specified that the Guard Corps of the Islamic Revolution took the British vessel to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. All 23 crew of the Stena Impero remain on the ship while the Islamic Republic investigates the events, the agency said.
“The UK’s Stena Impero tanker was detained by a unit of the First Naval Ship Zone of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran at the request of the Maritime and Ports Organization of Hormuzgan province for having ignored the rules and regulations seafarers crossing the Strait of Hormuz this afternoon,” said the official statement quoted by Fars News.
For its part, the British government said it was analyzing the information after the tanker Stena Impero, headed for Saudi Arabia, suddenly deviated from its course and headed for Iranian waters.
Washington has called the British ship’s arrest by Iran as evidence of Tehran’s supposed escalation of violence.
The seizure of the British tanker Stena Impero comes hours after the Gibraltar Supreme Court announced the 30-day extension of the detention of an Iranian tanker.
On July 4, authorities in Gibraltar (British Overseas Territory) detained the tanker Grace 1, accused of transporting Iranian crude oil to Syria, a fact denied by Tehran.