Stena Impero released after two months

September 27, 2019

TEHRAN – A British-flagged oil tanker that was detained by Iran more than two months ago left Iran’s Bandar Abbas port on Friday and was heading toward international waters, according to Reuters.

On July 19, the 30,000-ton UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker was seized by Iranian naval forces, after it ignored distress call as it collided with a fishing boat on its route.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said at that time that the ship had also used a wrong path to enter the Strait of Hormuz.  

A day after the seizure of the Stena Impero, Iran released footage showing Iranian speedboats cruising near the tanker as a military helicopter hovered over the vessel.

“The ship is on the move,” Erik Hanell, the chief executive of the ship’s owner, Sweden’s Stena Bulk, told Reuters in a text message. “We will comment further when the ship reaches international waters.”

According to Refinitiv tracking data, the vessel was heading for Dubai’s Port Rashid in the United Arab Emirates, about 250 km (155 miles) away.

Tensions broke out between Tehran and London on July 4 after Britain’s naval forces unlawfully seized oil tanker Grace 1 and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil off the Strait of Gibraltar. The oil tanker was released in August.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi announced on Wednesday that the procedure to release the Stena Impero had been finalized with the cooperation of the Foreign Ministry, Judiciary and Ports, and Maritime Organization.

However, Mousavi said, the case is still open to address some of the tanker’s violations concerning the environmental damages it caused.

Earlier, an Iranian maritime official had said the Stena Impero would be released soon.

“Pursuant to a court order requiring an end to detention of the British oil tanker Stena Impero, this vessel will soon be released after 65 days of detention and begin its movement from the port of Bandar Abbas toward international waters,” Allahmorad Afifipour, the head of the Ports and Maritime Department of Iran’s Hormozgan Province, said on Sunday.

Also, President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday he expected the oil tanker to be released after the completion of legal procedures in Iran.

“The tanker is going through the final court proceedings. I predict that it will be released,” Rouhani said at a news conference in New York.

MH/PA

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