Iran to Release Stena Impero’s Non-Essential Crew Members

stena impero seized by iran
Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, is seen at Bandar Abbas port, July 21, 2019. Picture taken July 21, 2019. Iran, Mizan News Agency/WANA Handout via REUTERS

Iran is set to release all non-essential crew members from the British-flagged Stena Impero, which has been held off Bandar Abbas since July 19, the ship’s Swedish owner said Wednesday.

“We understand that our long-standing request to remove non-essential personnel from Stena Impero is now being acted upon by the Iranian Government and that arrangements are underway for the release of seven crewmembers from the vessel,” Stena Bulk said in a statement.

As of yet, Stena Bulk has not received a firm release date from the Iranian authorities.

Sixteen crew members will remain on board the vessel in order to satisfy the vessel’s Minimum Safe Manning Certificate (MSMC) issued by the Flag State.

“We are very pleased that for 7 crewmembers their ordeal may soon be over, and they may return to their families, however we cautiously await official confirmation of their release date,” said Stena Bulk President and CEO, Erik Hanell.

“We view this communication as a positive step on the way to the release of all the remaining crew, which has always been our primary concern and focus,” Hanell added.

Hannel met the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, back on August 20 in Stockholm to discuss the matter.

“A constructive dialogue was had and we shared information around the case,” Hanell said at the time. “It was important for us to emphasize the importance of the release of the 23 crew members of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationalities, who have now been held on board for nearly five weeks and whose families were getting extremely concerned about their loved ones. Also for the release of the Swedish owned vessel Stena Impero.”

The Stena Impero was seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as it transited the Strait of Hormuz on July 19. Without providing evidence, Iran has accused the vessel of violating of international rules and regulations, including being involved in a collision with a smaller Iranian vessel.

“As previously stated, from the information we have, there is no current evidence the ship has breached any maritime rules or regulations, and we stand behind the professionalism and conduct of the crew of the Stena Impero,” Stena Bulk said in a statement in late July.