TEHRAN, Sept 24 (AFP) – A British-flagged oil tanker, which had been held off the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas for more than two months, has set sail, a specialist shipping website reported on Tuesday.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei had announced on Monday that “the legal process has finished” and the Swedish-owned vessel was free to leave.
“This morning’s satellite imagery captured by @planetlabs reveals that the #StenaImpero is NO LONGER ANCHORED at this location (27.07° N, 56.25° E),” TankerTrackers.com said on its Twitter account.
“She has been there since the second week of August.”
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps surrounded the Stena Impero with attack boats before rappelling onto the deck of the tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19.
The vessel was impounded at Bandar Abbas port for allegedly failing to respond to distress calls and turning off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat.
Stena Bulk, the company that owns the tanker, said on Sunday that it expected the vessel to be released soon, but had expressed caution about the situation.
The ship’s seizure was widely seen as a tit-for-tat move after authorities in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar detained an Iranian tanker earlier in July on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.
A Gibraltar court ordered the Iranian tanker’s release on August 15 despite an 11th-hour US legal bid to keep it in detention.
Tehran has repeatedly denied the two cases are related.