As the diplomatic standoff between Iran and the UK continues, the captain of an Iranian supertanker seized at Gibraltar announced that he no longer wants to be in command of the ship, his lawyer said on Friday August 16th, AP reported.
According to the captain, the vessel needs multiple repairs that may delay departure. US authorities announced in Washington on Friday August 16th that they had obtained a warrant to seize the tanker, though Gibraltar court officials said they had not received any claim by the end of the business day. It was not immediately clear if the US had forwarded the warrant.
The order of release on Thursday August 15th came despite objections by the US. The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo said 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 given.
Richard Wilkinson, lawyer for the captain, told AP 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."
Grace 1 was supposed to undergo maintenance before being captured, but the latest events disrupted installation of spare parts, which rendered the tanker incapable of undertaking a long voyage.
Adding to the uncertainty, the next possible destination of the cargo became a point of contention as Iranian and Gibraltarian authorities expressed disagreement over the terms that led to the ship's release.
Authorities in the Gibraltar territory located at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, did not reveal whether the vessel was expected to leave soon. Picardo said it was strictly a matter of the ship's agents and owners.