4 Filipino seafarers onboard seized boxship

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4 Filipino seafarers onboard seized boxship
VesselFinder file photo of the seized containership, MSC Aries. Photo by Peter Faas.
  • The Department of Migrant Workers confirmed that four Filipino seafarers were aboard the container ship MSC Aries seized by Iranian forces on April 13
  • The container ship was seized by Iranian authorities while navigating the Strait of Hormuz, near the Gulf of Oman
  • DMW is closely coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the licensed manning agency, ship manager, and the operator to ensure the safety of the seafarers and to work towards their release
  • The International Chamber of Shipping condemned the seizure and urgently called for the immediate release of both the seafarers and the ship

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) confirmed four Filipino seafarers were aboard container ship MSC Aries seized by Iranian forces on April 13 while navigating the Strait of Hormuz near the Gulf of Oman.

The International Chamber of Shipping condemned the seizure and urgently called for the immediate release of both the seafarers and the ship.

The vessel was seized 50 nautical miles north-east of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping in a statement said, “Iran’s seizure of the MSC Aries is a flagrant breach of international law and an assault on freedom of navigation. This reprehensible attack against a merchant ship once again places innocent seafarers on the front lines of geopolitical conflict.”

“Our thoughts are with the 25 seafarers who are now captives of Iran, and with the families who are now in fear of their loved ones’ safety. Iran must release the ship as a matter of urgency,” Platten added.

The DMW reached out to the families of the Filipino crew members, assuring them of full government support and assistance upon the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

In an advisory released on April 14, the agency said it is closely coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the licensed manning agency, ship manager, and operator to ensure the safety and well-being of the seafarers and to work towards their release.

The MSC Aries, a Portuguese-flagged vessel, is operated by the Zodiac Maritime Shipping Company, in which Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer holds a partial ownership stake.

The ship’s seizure was reported by Iran’s state-run IRNA News Agency, which claimed it was “linked to Israel.”

The incident occurs against the backdrop of heightened tensions between Iran and Israel, further raising the temperature in the Middle East.

The tensions stem from an attack believed to be by Israeli forces on the Iranian consulate in Syria on April 1, resulting in the loss of several Iranian military advisors, including two IRGC (Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) senior commanders.

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