Iran seized two British-operated oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz Friday, marking a fresh escalation of tensions between Tehran and the West.
The U.K.-flagged Stena Impero, which has a crew of 23 aboard, “was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters,” Stena Bulk, the shipping company that owns the vessel, said in a statement. "We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran."
Iran's Revolutionary Guard forces, in a statement on their website, say the ship was seized for "non-compliance with international maritime laws and regulations" and is being brought to an unnamed Iranian port, according to the Associated Press. Websites tracking the ship's path showed it turning sharply in the direction of Iran's Qeshm Island, instead of its intended destination of Saudi Arabia.
“We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf," a U.K. government spokesperson told Fox News.
Iran — the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism — has captured a British-flagged and a Liberian-flagged oil tanker on Friday in the Strait of Hormuz, according to U.S. officials.
"Iran has also seized a second tanker, the Liberian-flagged MV Mesdar, according to a US official," CNN reported. "Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced earlier that its navy has captured a British-flagged tanker ‘Stena Impero’ in the Strait of Hormuz."
We will continue to update as the escalating situation with Iran develops.
Iran has seized a second tanker, the Liberian-flagged MV Mesdar, according to a US official. The order of seizure of this one and the British-flagged tanker isn't clear at this time. https://t.co/mtEJ4X9dlh pic.twitter.com/h7mXiIWTRN— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) July 19, 2019