Tehran: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 a probe is carried out into the British vessel’s conduct.
The tanker was not carrying any cargo, he said, adding the crew members of the ship may be interviewed on technical matters.
“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.”
“If necessary, and at the request of judicial authorities, the crew may be summoned for technical and specialist interviews,” Afifpoor added.
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 Jeremy Hunt also warned that there will be “serious consequences” if the situation is not resolved.
On Saturday, Hunt tweeted that Tehran’s seizure of the UK-flagged oil tanker showed “worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilizing behavior”.