Crew of Seized MSC Aries to be Released Amidst Iran-Israel Tensions

MSC Aries

New Delhi: The Iranian government has signaled the imminent release of the crew from the Portuguese-flagged container ship MSC Aries, which was seized near the Strait of Hormuz amid escalating tensions with Israel. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian communicated this assurance to his Portuguese counterpart, Paulo Rangel, highlighting the importance Iran places on the crew’s human rights and their consular access.

While a specific release date has not been disclosed, one Indian crew member, a woman among the 17 Indian nationals aboard, has been allowed to return home. The situation for the remaining 16 Indian crew members is complex, involving “technicalities” and “contractual obligations,” according to the Ministry of External Affairs of India. MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal confirmed that the crew is in good health and in contact with their families.

The MSC Aries was intercepted by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as it headed to Mumbai, an action that Iran justified by alleging the ship violated maritime laws. This incident occurred against the backdrop of heightened hostilities between Iran and Israel, following an Israeli strike on an Iranian consulate in Damascus.

Owned by Gortal Shipping and leased to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the MSC Aries is associated with Zodiac Maritime, a company within Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. Iranian authorities claimed the vessel was diverted into Iran’s territorial waters for not responding to their calls, a statement made by Iranian spokesperson Nasser Kanaani.

MSC has acknowledged the seizure and is actively engaged with authorities to ensure the safe return of the ship and its diverse crew of 25, comprising Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Russian, and Estonian nationals. The international community, including the United States, United Kingdom, and Portugal, has called for the immediate release of the MSC Aries and its crew.

MSC Aries