Stena Impero Leaves Iran After Two Months Detention

  • The ship's departure was expected since last Sunday, as both the Swedish shipping company Stena Bulk and the Organization of Ports and Navigation of Iran reported that the order to release it had been given.
  • The Stena Impero was captured on July 19 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Strait of Hormuz for allegedly violating navigation rules.
  • The detention of the ship occurred two weeks after the seizure of the Iranian super-oil tanker Grace 1 by the British Navy near the coast of Gibraltar.

The British ship Stena Impero, captured by Iran in the waters of the Strait of Hormuz, at the gates of the Persian Gulf, has left the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas to international waters, according to the maritime authorities on Friday. The Organization of Ports and Navigation of Hormozgan province, whose capital is Bandar Abas, announced that the ship left the port at 09:00 local time. The commander and crew of Stena Impero gave their formal and written commitment that they have no claims, despite the fact that the ship was seized. The judicial case against the ship remains, “open” in Iranian courts.

The Stena Impero is a British-flagged oil tanker seized in a raid by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces on July 20. Iran confirmed that it seized the ship as retaliation over the British seizure of Grace 1.

The ship’s departure was expected since last Sunday, as both the Swedish shipping company Stena Bulk and the Organization of Ports and Navigation of Iran reported that the order to release it had been given. Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei confirmed Monday that “the conditions for letting the tanker be released and able to move ” had been met, but it was not until Friday when the ship has left the port.

The Stena Impero was captured on July 19 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Strait of Hormuz for allegedly violating navigation rules. According to data from the maritime tracking websites, the ship was navigating international waters between Iran and Oman when suddenly it changed course and headed towards the Iranian coast. An unidentified military source, cited by the state news agency IRNA, has said the ship had “deactivated its tracker and ignored several warnings before being captured.”

The company that owns Stena rejected those allegations and said that the ship complied with all regulations and was in international waters when it was intercepted. Since Washington strengthened its sanctions and its bellicose rhetoric last April, the Islamic Republic has responded defiantly but gradually in both the transgressions of the nuclear agreement and its actions around the Strait of Hormuz.

Grace 1, now named Adrian Darya 1, is a Panama-flagged Iranian oil tanker seized on July 4 by British naval forces in Gibraltar. It was released August 15 and renamed upon assurances it would not deliver its oil to an EU-sanctioned entity.

The detention of the ship, with 23 crew onboard, occurred two weeks after the seizure of the Iranian super-oil tanker Grace 1 by the British Navy near the coast of Gibraltar. The British naval authorities alleged that there were suspicions that the super-oil carrier was transporting crude oil to Syria, a country under European Union sanctions, but the Iranian authorities described it as an act of piracy and threatened to take retaliatory measures. The Grace 1, now renamed  Adrian Darya 1, was released in mid-August, but the US imposed sanctions.

The capture of Stena Impero caused a diplomatic crisis between Tehran and London and an escalation of tension in the Persian Gulf, where numerous incidents have been recorded in recent months. To ensure the safety of navigation in the area, the US has proposed to create a coalition that Iran sees hostile to its interests, so Iran has called for an agreement between regional countries without US interference.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.


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