ATHENS (Reuters) -The first crew member from one of the two Greek tankers seized by Iranian authorities in May arrived safely in Athens on Tuesday, Greek officials said.
Iran has agreed to release the crews of the MT Prudent Warrior and Delta Poseidon, which it seized in May in response to the confiscation of oil by the United States from an Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece.
“The second captain of Delta Poseidon has arrived home, in Athens,” a shipping ministry official told Reuters.
The crew member is the first to return home from the total of about 48 seafarers – Greeks, Filipinos and a Cypriot – who are expected to be gradually released and replaced in the coming days, a second Greek official told Reuters.
The months-long diplomatic impasse has strained relations between Athens and Tehran as tensions grow between Iran and the United States.
Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization said in a statement the crews of the two Greek vessels were not detained and could be rotated, Iranian state media reported.
The release of the tankers is expected to take longer than the replacement of the crews, a Greek coast official said on Monday.
(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas Additional reporting by Parisa HafeziEditing by Jonathan Oatis and Mark Potter)