Stena Impero departs Iran port


British-flagged Stena Impero tanker left Iran’s Bandar Abbas port on Friday and was heading for Dubai so the crew could be repatriated, the owner said, after the ship was detained in July by Iranian forces during a row with Britain.

The tanker was seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations two weeks after Britain detained an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar. The Iranian ship was released in August.

“The ship is on the move,” Erik Hanell, chief executive of Sweden’s Stena Bulk, the ship’s owner, told Reuters.

He said the company had a well-prepared security plan for the vessel once it left Iranian waters.

The seizure of the ship on July 19 ratcheted up tension in the region after attacks in May and June on other merchant vessels in Gulf waters, which the United States blamed on Iran, a charge Tehran denied.

Stena Bulk said the Stena Impero was heading to Dubai, on the opposite side of the Gulf, where the crew would receive medical checks and a debriefing.

Iran released seven of the ship’s 23 crew this month.

“The families of crew members were informed and the company is making arrangements for repatriation of its valued seafarers at the earliest possible opportunity,” the company said in a statement.

Refinitiv tracking data showed the vessel was heading for Dubai’s Port Rashid, 250 km from Bandar Abbas. At normal tanker speed, it would arrive in half a day.

The Ports and Maritime Organisation of Iran in Hormozgan Province said in a statement the ship moved from Bandar Abbas at 9 a.m. Iran time.

It said the judicial file on the vessel remained open and the process of looking into “violations” was ongoing.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the detention order was lifted but the investigation continued.

Stena Bulk said it was not in negotiations with Iran and not aware of formal charges against the crew or company.

Relations between the United States and Iran have become more strained since Washington withdrew from a global pact to rein in Tehran’s nuclear programme and imposed sanctions aimed at shutting down Iranian oil exports.