The Indian captain of Iranian supertanker Grace 1, which is at the centre 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 on Friday.
The tanker — and its 2.1 million tonnes of Iranian light crude oil — seemed to perform mild manoeuvres on Friday but largely remained still in waters off the British overseas territory a day after authorities ended its detention for allegedly breaching European Union sanctions on Syria, despite US efforts to block the release. The release on Thursday came as the head of the Gibraltar government said that Iran had promised him not to deliver the fuel to a sanctioned refinery in Syrian territory, although an Iranian official later disputed that those assurances had been delivered.
Richard Wilkinson, the lawyer representing three Grace 1 crew members who were released from detention on Thursday, 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,” said Wilkinson.
“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.
First Published: Aug 17, 2019 08:13 IST