The second ship, the Mesdar Crude Oil Tanker, is also heading towards Iran after owners of the first ship Stena Impero, said they were unable to contact crew onboard
19:59, 19 JUL 2019
UPDATED20:12, 19 JUL 2019
A second ‘British’ tanker near Iran has veered off course – after a first was seized in Iranian waters.
Owners of the first British tanker say they are unable to contact crew onboard.
It has now been reported that the second ship, the Mesdar Crude Oil Tanker, is also heading towards Iran.
The ship is operated by Norbulk Shipping UK Ltd.
It is unknown how many people were aboard the Mesdar ship.
The Ministry of Defence says it is urgently seeking information about the unfolding incident.
A meeting of the Government’s emergency committee, Cobra, is believed to be underway.
Iranian state TV has said authorities seized the Stena Impero, Reuters reports.
According to reports in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard surrounded the tanker because it did “not following international maritime regulations”.
The vessel was shown on tracking systems taking a sudden turn in the Gulf, having been headed to Saudi Arabia.
The company that owns the vessel said it was approached by “unidentified small crafts” and a helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz.
In a statement Northern Marine Management said: “We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.
“There are 23 seafarers aboard. There have been no reported injuries and their safety is of primary concern to both owners and managers.”
The company said the tanker was in international waters when it was approached.
Its statement continues: “Northern Marine Management has not been able to establish contact directly with the vessel since it was notified of the incident at approximately 1600 Today, 19th July 2019.
“We are in close contact with UK government authorities.”
The Stena Impero had left Fujairah in Dubai before being intercepted in the Strait of Hormuz.
A National Security Council statement said: “We are aware of reports that Iran seized a UK oil tanker. This is the second time in just over a week the UK has been targeted by [Iran].
“The US will continue to work with our allies to defend our security and interests against Iran’s malign behavior.”
An MOD spokesman said: “We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf.”
Relations between Iran and the West have been increasingly strained after Britain seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar on suspicion of smuggling oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.
Iran said it would retaliate and days later three Iranian vessels tried to block a British-owned tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
But on that occasion, the Iranian vessels backed off when confronted by a British Royal Navy warship.
Refinitiv data showed the Stena Impero is a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk and it had been en route to Jubail in Saudi Arabia.
Another map tracking the location of the Stena Impero showed it making a sharp turn in the Strait of Hormuz, at the southern entrance to the Gulf, and heading toward Iranian waters.