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Crew of Ship Seized by Iran Are Safe, Operator MSC Says

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 17, 2024

File photo: MSC Aries shown docked in the Port of Los Angeles in December 2021 (© angeldibilio / Adobe Stock)

File photo: MSC Aries shown docked in the Port of Los Angeles in December 2021 (© angeldibilio / Adobe Stock)

The 25 crew members of the MSC Aries, which was seized by Iran on April 13, are safe, shipping firm MSC said on Wednesday, adding that discussions with Iranian authorities are in progress to secure their earliest release.

"We are also working with the Iranian authorities to have the cargo discharged," the Swiss headquartered company said in a statement.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized the container vessel in the Strait of Hormuz days after Tehran vowed to retaliate for a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1. Iran had said it could close the crucial shipping route.

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), the leading seafarers' union, said on Wednesday that their priority was the welfare and safety of the seafarers onboard.

"I can confirm the ITF has been in touch with family of the crew on board MSC Aries – who have reported today they're safe and being treated reasonably," ITF inspectorate coordinator Steve Trowsdale told Reuters.

"We continue to call on the Iranian authorities to urgently release the crew and the vessel."

Portugal's foreign ministry summoned Iran's ambassador on Tuesday to condemn Saturday's attack on Israel by Tehran and to demand the immediate release of the Portuguese-flagged ship.

Iran has also seized other vessels in international waters in recent years, heightening risks for merchant shipping in the area.

The Advantage Sweet, Niovi and St Nikolas tankers, which were taken last year, were anchored in Iranian waters as of April 12, said Claire Jungman, chief of staff at U.S. advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, which tracks Iran-related tanker traffic via satellite data.

Iran's foreign ministry said on Monday that the MSC Aries was seized for "violating maritime laws", adding that there was no doubt the vessel was linked to Israel.

MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

Recent attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis have also affected the global maritime transport chain.

The Houthis are still holding the Galaxy Leader commercial ship and its 25 crew after the militia's commandos boarded the vessel at sea on Nov. 19.


(Reuters - Reporting by Jonathan Saul and Ashitha Shivaprasad; editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan)

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