Oil supertanker Grace 1 on suspicion of being carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria is seen near Gibraltar, Spain in this picture obtained from social media, July 4, 2019. (Reuters)

August 17, 2019

The captain of the Iranian Grace 1 supertanker at the center of a diplomatic standoff no longer wants to keep command of the ship, which is in need of repairs that could impede its immediate departure from Gibraltar, the sailor’s lawyer said Friday.

Richard Wilkinson, a lawyer representing three Grace 1 crew members, told The Associated Press that the Indian national who commanded the oil tanker until it was detained in early July had asked his Iranian employers to replace him.

“He doesn’t want to stay in command of the ship, he wants to go home, because he wasn’t happy to go back and pick up the broken pieces,” the attorney said. “But he’s a professional skipper and needs to wait for a new crew to do a proper handover.”

The lawyer said the tanker had been due for repairs in Gibraltar even before it was seized and its detention impeded the replacement of parts, making the tanker unfit for an immediate long voyage.

Adding to the uncertainty, the next possible destination of the cargo became a point of contention as Iranian and Gibraltar authorities showed disagreement over the terms that led to the ship’s release.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Friday that his country had made no commitments to gain the release of its tanker, while the chief minister of Gibraltar insisted on written assurances were received.

The captors of the vessel “raised the issue of commitment in a bid to make up for their humiliation caused by this illegal act and piracy,” Abbas Mousavi said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

“We announced that Syria was not its destination and we have upheld the same … and reiterated that it was nobody’s business even if it was Syria,” he added.

In response, the Gibraltar government issued a statement saying that “the evidence is clear and the facts speak louder than the self-serving political statements we are hearing today.”

AP

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.