ATHENS – Iran has promised to release the crews of two Greek tankers it arrested in the Gulf in May, in reaction to the United States seizing oil from an Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece, according to the Greek Union of Commercial Ships’ Seafarers.
As tensions between Iran and the United States rise, the case has strained relations between Athens and Tehran.
The tankers’ crews will be replaced, allowing them to return to their home countries as soon as possible, according to a statement posted on the union’s website on Sunday.
It was unclear whether the two Greek tankers, the MT Prudent Warrior and the Delta Poseidon, would be released, according to the statement.
The report could not be confirmed by Iran’s foreign ministry.
“We have no confirmation of a release at this time,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Nasser KanaanI said, adding that he hoped “good events would occur in the future.”
According to a Greek shipping ministry source, “a very serious endeavor has been underway for the repatriation of the Greek personnel as quickly as possible,” without elaborating.
The Iranian-flagged tanker Lana, previously Pegas, was captured by Greece in April and imprisoned for several months. Due to sanctions, the United States has confiscated a portion of its oil cargo.
The removal of oil from the Lana prompted Iranian soldiers to detain two Greek tankers in the Middle East Gulf and sail them back to Iran in May, after Tehran threatened Athens with “punitive action.”
Lana, which experienced engine issues, was released officially in July.
Since then, it has been anchored off the coast of Piraeus, where it has reclaimed the oil cargo that the US had taken and is anticipated to sail back to Iran.
Polembros shipping, the MT Prudent Warrior’s manager, said in a statement on Monday that the crew speaks with their families almost everyday and that “they are in good health and are treated properly.”
It went on to say that the company is working hard to have them out.
“We have been innocent victims caught up in political squabbles,” the statement added. “We are hopeful that the current events will pave the way for the release of our vessel and crew.”