The crew of chemical tanker Hankuk Chemi (IMO 9232369) are on their way to South Korea, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said earlier this week.
The vessel and its crew were detained by Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz on January 4th 2021 over alleged marine pollution. It has been claimed that the seizure was really a tit-for-tat virtual hostage move in response to South Korean banks holding onto $7bn in Iranian funds because of international sanctions against the country.
The crew included five South Korean, 11 Burmese, two Vietnamese and two Indonesian seafarers. The ITF said it had received a request for assistance from the Federation of Korean Seafarers’ Union (FKSU) to support the detained seafarers following the incident.
ITF affiliate Iranian Merchant Mariners Syndicate (IMMS) was granted permission by Iran’s maritime authorities to visit the ship and check on the crew’s welfare.
On February 8th an IMMS representative and an ITF contact in Iran managed to get aboard the Hankuk Chemi. They were accompanied by agents from the Iranian Port & Maritime Organization.
Following that visit a meeting was held at Bahonar Port office between the IMMS team, the Republic of Korea consul and the Iranian Port and Maritime Organization
The ITF said that “shortly after this meeting, the Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran issued a statement that the crew, with the exemption of the Master, would be allowed to leave the country. IMMS offered to provide Iranian seafarers so that the crew could be relieved and repatriated home as soon as possible,” the ITF said.
The crew members were now making their way home, ITF said, while Iran has said that judicial proceedings into the alleged pollution by the ship and its captain were still underway.
The vessel owner, DM Shipping, has denied all allegations that the vessel had caused pollution, noting that the normal procedure when any pollution was suspected had not been followed.
The vessel was is reported to be docked at Bandar Abbas, capital of Hormozgān Province on the southern coast of Iran.
2000-built, South Korea-flagged, 9,797 gt Hankuk Chemi is owned by DM Shipping Co Ltd of Busan, South Korea. It is managed by Taikun Shipping Co Ltd of Busan, South Korea. It is entered with Japan Club (Tokyo office in charge) on behalf of DM Shipping Co Ltd.