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Iran to release 17 Filipino seafarers

Iran to release 17 Filipino seafarers
Malou Talosig-Bartolome March 9, 2024

IRAN has decided to release the remaining 17 Filipino crew of oil tanker M/T St. Nikolas, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced.

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Eduardo de Vega said the Filipinos were freed after the owners of the oil tanker assured Tehran that they will be replaced by seafarers from other countries.

“The contracts of our seafarers have also expired,” De Vega said.

A total of 18 Filipino seafarers and one Greek cadet were on board the M/T St. Nikolas when Iran’s Navy seized their ship while transiting the Gulf of Oman last January 11.

Iran said the seizure was in retaliation for the US confiscation of 980,000 barrels of crude oil last year.

In 2023, the US seized the ship (erstwhile named Suez Rajan) for allegedly bringing Iran’s oil, a violation of the oil embargo sanction by the US against Iran.

The Greek cadet was initially released and last month, a Filipino seafarer had requested to be repatriated immediately.

Iran did not charge the Filipino crew for alleged piracy, but set a condition that they can be released if they have replacement to maintain the ship anchored off Bandar Abbas in southern Iran.

The first batch who were released consists of 11 seafarers. Nine of them will arrive on Sunday, while the two others will fly to Manila next week.