Rickmers Shipmanagement is “seriously concerned” about the crew of the Maersk Line containership it manages and which is being detained by Iran near the port city of Bandar Abbas.
US authorities confirmed on 28 April that at approximately 13:00 local time, the 5,400 teu, Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris was approached by several Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard patrol vessels while the Maersk Tigris was in Iranian territorial waters.
After the box ship’s master declined Iran’s request to move further into Iranian waters, one of the patrol vessels fired shots across the ship’s bridge, according to Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren.
“The master complied with the Iranian demand and proceeded into Iranian waters in the vicinity of Larak Island,” Warren added.
Rickmers Shipmanagement said it was liaising with international authorities. “Their main priority at the moment is the wellbeing of its seafarers on board Maersk Tigris. The company continues to monitor the vessel’s position at the same time seeking communications with the crew,” Rickmers Shipmanagement said in a statement.
The Marshall Islands’ maritime administrator is “working with the ship manager and relevant international authorities to secure the vessel’s release as quickly as possible,” a Marshall Islands flag spokesperson told IHS Maritime.
US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), which oversees US military operations in the Persian Gulf, directed the destroyer USS Farragut to the area. NAVCENT noted that there were no Americans on board the vessel.
News sources speculate the incident may be retaliation against President Barack Obama’s decision to send warships to the region to keep shipping lanes open as the situation in Yemen deteriorates.