Iran has upped the ante in its disagreement with the US and Greece over the confiscation of an Iran-flagged tanker and its cargo of crude. On Friday May 27th the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boarded and seized two Greek Suezmax crude oil tankers, the Delta Poseidon (IMO 9468671) and Prudent Warrior (IMO 9753545) in the Persian Gulf off the Iranian coast, allegedly for violation of maritime regulations.
Both tankers were set to leave the Gulf after completing cargo operations –the Delta Poseidon at Basra Oil Terminal, Iraq, and the Prudent Warrior at Ras Laffan, Qatar, meaning that both tankers were likely to be in full load. By late on Friday night local time the AIS of both vessels had been turned off.
It appeared that both tankers were seized as a retaliatory move and likely as an attempt to gain leverage after Greece seized the formerly Russia-flagged Suezmax tanker Lana (ex-Pegas) in Greek waters, in April.
Greek authorities found that the cargo of crude was of Iranian origin, so at the request of the US the cargo was confiscated and transshipped into another tanker, subsequently to be transported to the US.
The Lana meanwhile, remained anchored in Greek waters.
Greece’s foreign ministry confirmed the news, saying that an Iranian helicopter landed on the Delta Tankers suezmax Delta Poseidon in international waters some 22nm off the coast of Iran and that a similar incident was reported to have occurred on another suezmax which has been meanwhile identified as Polembros Shipping’s Prudent Warrior.
Greece has lodged a strong protest against the Iranian ambassador in Athens over what was described as a “violent occupation of two Greek-flagged ships”. The minister said that the boardings were essentially equivalent to piracy. Greece called for the immediate release of the vessels and their crews. It said that these acts would have a particularly negative impact on bilateral relations and Iran’s relations with the EU.
The Greek foreign ministry said in a release on Friday that it had informed its allies, the European External Action Service, and the International Maritime Organisation, and also advised its citizens to avoid travelling to Iran.
In April the Greek authorities seized the Iranian-flagged tanker, with 19 Russian crew members on board, due to EU sanctions. The US then impounded the Iranian oil cargo from the tanker, which was ultimately freed because of confusion about the sanctions over its owners.
Earlier on Friday, Nour News, which is affiliated to an Iranian state security body, said on Twitter: “Following the seizure of an Iranian tanker by the Greek government and the transfer of its oil to the Americans, #Iran has decided to take punitive action against #Greece.”
The Pegas / Lana was among five vessels designated by Washington on February 22nd for sanctions against Promsvyazbank, a bank viewed as critical to Russia’s defence sector.
On Friday Iran summoned an envoy of Switzerland, which represents US interests in Tehran, to protest against the Pegas oil seizure, the Iranian foreign ministry said.
“The Islamic Republic expressed its deep concern over the U.S. government’s continued violation of international laws and international maritime conventions,” state media quoted the foreign ministry as saying.
IRNA said that the tanker had sought refuge along the Greek coast after experiencing technical problems and poor weather. It called the seizure of its cargo was “a clear example of piracy”.
2011-built, Greece-flagged, 81,619 gt Delta Poseidon is owned by Delta Poseidon ENE care of manager Delta Tankers Ltd, Athens, Greece. It is entered with Gard on behalf of Delta Poseidon Special Maritime Enterprise. As of May 27th the vessel was reported as underway using engine in the Persian Gulf.
2017-built, Greece-flagged, 81,287 gt Prudent Warrior is owned by Bonita Transport Ltd care of manager Polembros Shipping Ltd of Athens, Greece. It is entered with American Club on behalf of Bonita Transport Ltd. As of May 27th the vessel was reported as underway using engine in the Persian Gulf.
Source: Insurance Marine News, May 30th 2022