APRIL 29, 2015 — Maersk Line, the charterer of Maersk Tigris, the containership forced to dock in Bandar Abbas yesterday after shots were fired by an Iranian patrol vessel, said today that the crew are "in good spirits" and that it was working with the Danish Foreign Ministry to resolve the issue.
The ship is managed by Rickmers Shipmanagement and is owned by funds advised by Oaktree Capital Management, LP in a partnering with the Rickmers Group announced in October 2012 (see earlier story).
Iran's Tasnim news agency quotes the deputy head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization, Hadi Haqshenas, as saying that an Iranian court had ordered the detention of the Marshall Islands registered vessel in relation to debts allegedly owed by Maersk to an Iranian company.
Another Iranian media outlet, PressTV quotes the Ports and Maritime Organization as saying the court ruling was issued on March 16, 2015.
Press TV quotes Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying the vessel was seized by Iranian Navy forces based on a court decision.
"The move was in the framework of the laws and regulations of the Islamic Republic of Iran and [is] consistent with International regulations and protocols," she said on Wednesday.
Ms. Afkham expressed hope that the ship could be released soon after "its overdue debt is settled," adding that the vessel is currently docked at the Bahonar Port near Bandar Abbas in south Iran.
She noted that all 24 crew members of various nationalities on board the ship are "in full health," and can receive "unrestricted" consular services.
According to Press TV the ship's captain is Bulgarian and the first mate is Russian. Other crew members include 13 Myanmar nationals, 4 Romanians, one Ukrainian, one British national, two Sri Lankans, and a Polish national
In today's U.S, State Department briefing, Acting Spokesperson Marie Harf said, "Our understanding is that as of this morning, the Maersk Tigris remains in the custody of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. It is currently anchored off the northeast coast of Larak Island, Iran. We're continuing to monitor the situation. As we've said, we have not received any reports of injuries to crew members. And as we noted yesterday, according to information received from the vessel's operators, there were no – or there are no, excuse me, Americans aboard."
"We are in communications with officials from the Republic of the Marshall Islands as well as with the shipping company to determine the best steps forward to ensure the peaceful resolution of this incident and the safe passage of the ship and crew," said Ms. Harf. "The Republic of Marshall Islands has requested assistance for the release of the Maersk ship, and again, we're in communication with them about how best to affect that outcome."
"Under the U.S.-Republic of Marshall Islands Compact of Free Association, the U.S. has full authority and responsibility for security and defense matters in or relating to the Marshall Islands, including matters relating to vessels flying their flag," she noted