Iran tanker breaks down in Red Sea

An Iranian oil tanker has broken down in the Red Sea near Saudi Arabia but its crew are safe and carrying out repairs, the oil ministry’s website said on Wednesday.
The HELM suffered a “technical fault” about 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of the Saudi port of Yanbu on Tuesday, the ministry’s website said, citing the National Iranian Tanker Company.

“The crew of the tanker are busy fixing the defect and the vessel is in a stable situation from a safety standpoint,” the NITC’s technical director Akbar Jabalameli was quoted as saying.

The crew of the tanker was safe and “in full readiness to solve the problem”, he added.

TankerTrackers.com, which monitors ship movements, said the HELM was carrying 1.3 million barrels of crude oil and heading towards the Suez Canal from the Iranian island of Kharg.

The vessel appears on the US Treasury’s website in a list of entities subject to American sanctions.

It is the second such Iranian breakdown in recent months after the tanker Happiness 1 was forced to seek repairs in the Saudi port of Jeddah port that reportedly cost the Islamic republic $10 million.

It comes days after another Iranian oil tanker — the Adrian Darya — set sail after being released by the British overseas territory of Gibraltar despite a US bid to detain it.

Forces of US ally Britain had helped seize the tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.

But a court in the British territory ordered its release last week and the ship began sailing eastward on Sunday night, its final destination unknown.

Iran and its arch-foe the United States have been at loggerheads since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a landmark nuclear deal last year and began reimposing sanctions against the Islamic republic.

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