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Seized British tanker safe at Port Rashid in Dubai

British tanker, Dubai, Dubai port, oil tanker, Iran, US, UK, Indian, Russia, Philippines, Port Rashid
Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk.- Reuters

Dubai - Of the ship's 23 crew members from Indian, Russia, Philippines and Latvia - seven had been released earlier.


Anjana Sankar

Published: Sat 28 Sep 2019, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 30 Sep 2019, 10:06 AM

The crew of the British vessel Stena Impero, which was detained by Iran for ten weeks, is relieved to be in Dubai and will soon join their families, the company's CEO has confirmed.
"They are all happy to be in Dubai. They are expected to disembark soon, and in a few days they will be back with their families," Erik Hanell, president and CEO of Stena Bulk, the Swedish company that owns the tanker, told Khaleej Times over phone on Saturday.
Hanell confirmed that the tanker reached Dubai's Port Rashid close to 4pm on Saturday after sailing out of the Iranian waters on Friday evening.
"Our priority is to make sure they are all in good shape-both physically and psychologically. After debriefing, which we expect will take a few days, we want to ensure they will reach their families as quickly as possible," said Hanell.
Of the ship's 23 crew members from Indian, Russia, Philippines and Latvia - seven had been released earlier.
The British tanker was in the heart of a worsening diplomatic crisis between Iran and the US after Iran's Revolutionary Guard seized it on July 19 in retaliation of the capture of an Iranian tanker off the Gibraltar by British forces. The Iranian ship was released in August.
The capture of Stena Impero led to an all-time escalation of tension between the two countries while threatening maritime security along a crucial global shipping route in the Straits of Hormuz.
Hanell said the company takes the opportunity to praise the crew for their "professionalism in the handling of the difficult and stressful situation". "Also, to their families who maintained a caring and supportive role throughout. The importance of their support cannot be over-stated.
"The crew will have a period of time to be with their families following 10 weeks of detainment on the vessel. Full support will be offered to the crew and families in the coming weeks to assist with their recovery," Hanell said in a statement released by the company.
The CEO said the company will not release the names of the crew members. "We ask that you respect their privacy at this time."
Khaleej Times was one of the first media outlets to reach out to the family of one of the crew members, who is from Kerala, India.
TV Pappachan, father of Dijo Pappachan who was onboard Stena Impero, told Khaleej Times that he spoke to his son briefly after Iran allowed the crew to get in touch with their families.
"We spoke for six to seven minutes - his mother and I, both spoke to him. The first thing he asked me was whether I was going to work. And I asked him whether he was eating well. He told us not to worry and be brave and go about our routine life," said Pappachan.
After a ten week-long ordeal, Hanell said the ship will soon get back to business but security of maritime vessels remains a concern.
"We will stay here and will continue to trade in the area within a week while the crew will get off. But, safety is a major concern and has been for a long time. We have to take measurements to safeguards the ships," Hanell said.
"We also wish to take this opportunity to thank all authorities who have assisted over the past 10 weeks in securing the release of the vessel. In particular, we would like to recognise the efforts of the Swedish Foreign Ministry throughout this incident and also the support from various UK Government departments, coordinated by the Department for Transport's maritime division", Hanell said in the statement.
"In addition, we are grateful for the Consular visits on board from the embassies of India, Russia, Latvia and the Philippines."

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