The Iranian Revolutionary Guards announced that they had seized two Greek oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. “The Revolutionary Guards Navy yesterday seized two Greek tankers for violations in the waters of the Gulf,” said a statement from the Guards, quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency. Iran had threatened to take “punitive measures” earlier on Friday over Athens' involvement in the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker by the United States in Greek waters.
The US Navy's 5th Fleet, based in the Middle East, said earlier on Friday that it was “examining” reports that Iran had seized two Greek oil tankers after Tehran threatened to take “punitive measures” against Athens for seizing one of the its tankers. Commander of the 5th Fleet Timothy Hawkins told the Associated Press that the US Navy was continuing the search. He did not give further details.
Earlier on Friday, the shipping news website Lloyd’s List reported that two Greek tankers had been seized in the Persian Gulf by Iranian forces. Citing anonymous industry sources, Lloyd’s reported that both Iranians boarded armed ships from military helicopters on Friday afternoon. He said both tankers had just loaded Iraqi crude oil.
πη Shipping sources confirmed that Delta Poseidon (IMO: 9468671) and Prudent Warrior (IMO: 935 The two, under the Greek flag, were approached by Iranian helicopters on Friday afternoon.
“Both ships were boarded by military personnel and later escorted by Iranian navy ships from the international traffic lanes in Iranian waters a few miles off the coast,” said Lloyd's List.
The tanker Prudent Warrior
A spokesman for the Greek Polembros Shipping, manager of the Prudent Warrior, said the company had lost contact with the ship. The ship was carrying a crew of 24 Greeks and Filipinos. Polembros was later informed by other Greek ships in the area that the tanker was now at an anchorage about 11 miles off the Iranian coast.
The ship was loaded in Basra, Iraq and is carrying oil cargo to the United States. The Delta Poseidon was loaded in the same port of Iraq. According to Lloyd’s List Intelligence, its destination was Agioi Theodoroi near Corinth and the cargo was destined for the Motor Oil refinery located there. The Delta Poseidon, which has a crew of 25 people, is part of the Delta Tankers fleet based in Greece.
Protest action at Iranian ambassador
The Greek Ministry of Shipping has been informed about the incidents while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the suitability of the two ships under the Greek flag.
The Announcement of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs
″ By order of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, the Secretary General of the Ministry, Themistoklis Demiris, recently staged a strong protest against the Iranian Ambassador in Athens, regarding the violent occupation of two Greek-flagged ships in the Gulf.
The above acts are essentially equivalent to acts of piracy.
The Secretary-General strongly condemned these acts, which are contrary to fundamental rules of international law and international navigation.
He called for his immediate release of ships and their crews.
He also stressed that these acts would have a particularly negative impact on bilateral relations, as well as on EU-Iran relations.
In particular, yesterday a helicopter of the Iranian navy crashed into the Greek-flagged ship Delta Poseidon which was sailing in international waters (22 nautical miles off the coast of Iran) in the Gulf.
Then gunmen captured the crew of the ship, including two Greek nationals.
A similar incident was reported to have occurred on another Greek-flagged ship, carrying seven Greek nationals, off the Iranian coast.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already informed the European External Action Service, the International Maritime Organization, as well as allies and partners of Greece.
In light of the above, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises Greek citizens to avoid traveling to Iran.
Greek-flagged ships are required to follow the instructions of the Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy, with which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in close coordination and constant communication ία. ”
Source: Reuters, Lloyd’s List, Associated Press ///thetoc. gr/Giannis Katsaros