DMW: 18 OFWs in good situation after Iran seized tanker in Oman | Global News

DMW: 18 OFWs in good situation after Iran seized tanker in Oman

By: - Reporter / @FArgosinoINQ
, / 11:53 AM January 14, 2024

St Nikolas ship X1 oil tanker involved in U.S.-Iran dispute in the Gulf of Oman which state media says was seized is seen in the Tokyo bay, Japan, October 4, 2020, in this handout picture.

St Nikolas ship X1 oil tanker involved in U.S.-Iran dispute in the Gulf of Oman which state media says was seized is seen in the Tokyo bay, Japan, October 4, 2020, in this handout picture. (REUTERS file photo)

MANILA, Philippines — Eighteen Filipino seafarers, whose vessel was seized last week in the Gulf of Oman, are in “good condition” and they are in the custody of Iranian government.

In a statement on Saturday evening, Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne Caunan said they are coordinating with Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on the plight of the Filipinos.


They have also contacted the seafarers’ families.


“Sa ngayon naman po, maganda naman po ang update dito. Nasa maganda silang kalagayan at patuloy po ang DMW na makikipag-ugnayan sa DFA para i-monitor iyong kanilang sitwasyon,” she said.

(As of now, the update is good. They are in good situation are in good condition and DMW will continue to contact DFA to monitor their situation.)

She added DFA will provide updates on the negotiations being done in relation to their release from Iranian authorities.

Iran’s navy seized the ship off Oman to retaliate for the “theft” of its oil from the same tanker last year by the United States, state media said Thursday.

United States condemned what it called an “unlawful seizure” and demanded Iran “immediately release the ship and its crew.”

The announcement came hours after a British navy maritime security agency said armed men boarded the Greek-owned, Marshall Islands-flagged St Nikolas off Oman and changed course towards Bandar-e Jask in Iran.


Four or five “unauthorized boarders are reported to be wearing military-style black uniforms with black masks,” United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said.

Iran’s navy later confirmed it had seized the ship, which was previously called the Suez Rajan.

“The Navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran seized an American oil tanker in the waters of the Gulf of Oman in accordance with a court order,” the official IRNA news agency said.

The seizure was in retaliation for “violation committed by the Suez Rajan ship… and the theft of Iranian oil by the United States,” IRNA said.

“Iran’s actions are contrary to international law and threaten maritime security and stability,” said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and Commander U.S. 5th Fleet.

Iran has responded with tit-for-tat measures in the past after seizures of Iranian oil shipments.

US is targeting Iran by imposing crippling sanctions against the West Asian country’s oil and petrochemical sales.

These restrictions are in a bid to reduce Iran’s energy exports.

The penalties were reimposed following Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from a landmark nuclear deal.

“The Iranian government must immediately release the ship and its crew,” US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

“This unlawful seizure of a commercial vessel is just the latest behavior by Iran or enabled by Iran aimed at disrupting international commerce.”

Communications lost

Ambrey, a British maritime risk company, said the group which boarded the St. Nikolas covered the ship’s cameras.

A security officer “reported hearing unknown voices over the phone along with the master’s voice,” it added.

Communications have been lost with the vessel, which was carrying 19 crew — 18 Filipinos and one Greek — the tanker’s Greece-based management company Empire Navigation told AFP.

The vessel had been loaded with 145,000 tons of crude oil in Basra, Iraq and was destined for Aliaga in Turkey via the Suez Canal, Empire added.

Ambrey said management of the recently renamed tanker was previously prosecuted and fined for carrying sanctioned Iranian oil, which was confiscated by US authorities.

IRNA, quoting the Iranian navy’s public relations office, said the ship was “being transferred to the ports of the Islamic republic for delivery to the judicial authorities.”

In September, United States said it had seized the Suez Rajan and its cargo of 980,000 barrels of crude oil months earlier.

US Department of Justice said at that time, the oil on the Greek-managed tanker was allegedly being sold by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to China.

Shortly after that seizure, Iran seized two tankers — the Marshall Islands-flagged Advantage Sweet as it sailed toward the United States in the Gulf of Oman, and then the Greek-owned Niovi, as it travelled from Dubai to Fujairah.

The Gulf of Oman, a key route for the oil industry that separates Oman and Iran, has witnessed a series of hijackings and attacks over the years, often involving Iran.

Shipping in the resource-rich region is also on heightened alert following weeks of drone and missile attacks in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

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– With a report from Agence France-Presse

TAGS: DFA, DMW, Filipinos, Iran, seafarers

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