Calls for release of British sailors held in Iran

Five British sailors were being detained in Iran today after their racing yacht was stopped by the Iranian navy, the Foreign Office said.

Their boat, the Kingdom Of Bahrain, owned by Sail Bahrain, was stopped by Iranian naval vessels last Wednesday as it sailed from Bahrain to Dubai.

The crew members were named last night as Bahrain-based radio presenter David Bloomer, Oliver Smith, 31, from Southampton, Oliver Young, 21, from Plymouth, Sam Usher and Luke Porter, 21.

The sailors are understood to be safe and well. Their families have been informed.

The UK Foreign Office said the yacht may have “inadvertently” strayed into Iranian waters.

The sailors were heading to Dubai to join the Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race. Their detention will further raise tensions between Iran and the West.

The country has come under increasing pressure in response to its plans to build 10 new nuclear fuel plants.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said officials had contacted their Iranian counterparts as soon as they became aware of the situation.

He explained: “FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) officials immediately contacted the Iranian authorities in London and in Tehran on the evening of November 25, both to seek clarification and to try and resolve the matter swiftly.

“Our ambassador in Tehran has raised the issue with the Iranian foreign ministry and we have discussed the matter with the Iranian embassy in London. I hope this issue will soon be resolved.

“We will remain in close touch with the Iranian authorities, as well as the families.”

Sail Bahrain was recently launched by yachting company Team Pindar.

The boat had been due to take part in the 360-mile Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race which was due to start last Thursday.

Mr Bloomer, who is believed to hold dual British and Irish nationality and is said to be in his 60s, was due to broadcast updates on the boat’s progress in the race.

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