The president and CEO of shipping firm Stena Bulk, Erik Hanell, has appealed directly to Indian President Narendra Modi for help and assistance with the release of 18 Indian seafarers who have been detained under Iranian control on one of the company’s vessels for almost a month.
On 19 July the UK-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero was approached by several unidentified small crafts and a helicopter while crossing the Strait of Hormuz. There are 23 seafarers aboard the vessel, which still remains in Iranian hands.
According to a statement from Stena Bulk, Hanell has also appealed to the leaders and foreign affairs ministers of Russia, Latvia, and the Philippines – where the vessel’s other crew members hail from – with the aim of resolving the situation.
“We are maintaining limited communication with the crew on board, and although they remain in good health considering the circumstances, we continue to be concerned about their welfare given the amount of time they have been in confinement,” Hanell said on 6 August.
The CEO’s appeals come at a time of heightened diplomatic tensions between Iran and the West. The crisis began on 4 July when Gibraltar detained Grace 1, later renamed Adrian Darya 1, an Iranian oil tanker suspected of transporting oil to Syria.
Gibraltar lifted its detention order on the vessel last week and rejected a new request by the United States to continue to hold the tanker. Adrian Darya 1 left Gibraltar on 19 August.