Iran says it will release crew of two seized Greek tankers

The Greek Seafarers’ Union PENEN has reported that Iran has agreed to release the crews of two Greek tankers – the Prudent Warrior (IMO 9753545) and Delta Poseidon (IMO 9468671) – it seized on May 27th in retaliation for the confiscation of oil by the US from an Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece (IMN June 1st,and subsequent dates).

The crews will be replaced, allowing their return to their countries of origin soon, the commercial shipping union said on its website on Sunday September 11th.

It was not clear whether the two Greek tankers would be released, PENEN said.

On Monday Greek shipping minister Yannis Plakiotakis confirmed that one Delta Poseidon crew member was returning to Greece.

Α Greek official said the effort to free the crews was in progress but the release of the tankers would take longer than the replacement of the crews.

The tit-for-tat detentions came about as a result of a confection of US sanctions against Russia and Iran. The Lana (IMO 9256860), sailing under the Iranian flag, had previously been the Pegas, sailing under the Russian flag until April this year. Its crew was Russian, but the oil was Iranian (IMN May 31st).

Greece said that it impounded the Pegas due to EU sanctions against Iran, although at the time it was thought that the arrest was due to its previous Russian flag and Russian crew. The US later confiscated the Iranian oil cargo held onboard, once again, it claimed, because of the sanctions against Iran, rather than because of the vessel’s Russian connections.

It was seized by Greece in April, but the Greek Supreme Court ultimately held that the move had not been legal. Meanwhile the US had offloaded the oil because of its sanctions against Iran, even though the initial request for detention had been because of US sanctions against Russia.

The removal of the oil from the Lana was the immediate cause of Iranian forces in May seizing the two Greek tankers in the Gulf and sailing them back to Iran. The Lana, which for added complexity had also been suffering engine problems, was released by Greece in July. Since then it has been anchored off the Greek port of Piraeus and had retrieved the oil cargo that the US had confiscated. It is expected to sail back to Iran.

Polembros shipping, manager of the Prudent Warrior, said this week that the crew were communicating with their families on an almost daily basis and that they were “in good health and are treated well”.

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.

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.

2003-built, Iran-flagged, 61,991 gt Lana / Pegas is owned and managed by Transmorflot LLC of Akhty, Russia. It was renamed the Lana on March 1st. As of September 12th it remained at Piraeus anchorage