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Seized tanker crew ‘well treated’ by Iranians, says released cadet

Youngest member of the crew of suezmax St Nikolas, being held in Bandar Abbas, has returned home

The 19-year-old speaks of crew’s shock at vessel’s seizure at gunpoint — and his surprise at quick release

SEAFARERS on board the suezmax tanker St Nikolas (IMO: 9524475) are being well treated by their Iranian captors, according to a cadet who — until January 18 — was a member of the crew.

The 19-year-old, who has not been named by the tanker’s managing company or by news media, arrived in Greece on Friday afternoon after the Greek government secured his release.

The 158,574 dwt tanker was boarded by Iranian naval forces on January 11 and forced to divert to Bandar Abbas. Another 18 members of the crew, all Filipinos, remain on board.

Under its previous name, Suez Rajan, the tanker was last year at the centre of a US operation to confiscate its cargo Iranian crude.

Empire Navigation, the vessel’s managers, welcomed the return of its cadet home on Friday.

“We are grateful to the Greek foreign affairs ministry and the Greek ambassador to Iran for their involvement in his safe return,” the company said in a statement.

It also said the Filipino ambassador to Iran had visited the vessel and met with the 18 remaining seafarers. They were reportedly “of good health and in frequent contact with their families”.

Empire said that it expected further developments regarding the seafarers’ release soon. 

“The safety and well-being of our crew and their families has and always will be our company’s top priority,” it said.

The released cadet was the youngest member of the crew and the sole Greek national on board.

On arrival at Athens airport, he told Greek public broadcast media that “the Iranians treated us in an exemplary manner”.

He said: “They treated me exceptionally and expedited the process of my repatriation."

According to the cadet, the seizure of the ship was an “unprecedented” experience for the whole crew.

“I am very emotional,” he said. “I did not expect this to be concluded so quickly.”

 

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