[Updated] Detained Maersk Vessel Ordeal Reaching Conclusion

Maersk Tigris

By Reuters 2015-05-06 14:54:52

Iran said on Wednesday a legal settlement could be reached soon over its seizure of the Marshall-Islands flagged Maersk Tigris container ship in the Strait of Hormuz last month, according to the official IRNA news agency.

The Maersk Tigris was diverted on April 28 by Iranian patrol boats in one of the world's major oil shipping lanes, prompting the United States to send vessels to monitor the situation and to accompany U.S.-flagged vessels passing through the strait.

Danish shipping giant Maersk has insisted on the release of the vessel and its 24 crew members. Iran says the Maersk Tigris would only be let go once a years-old debt case is settled.

"The negotiations between the private complainant and the other party are going on and possibly the issue will be resolved in a day or two," IRNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as telling a news conference.

Maersk chartered the ship, which according to ship operator Rickmer Shipmanagement is owned by undisclosed private investors.

A spokesman for Rickmers said on Thursday: "We've noted the statements in the media from Iran's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. I can only confirm that Maersk - as stated yesterday - are in dialogue with the court in Iran."

 Maersk Line said on Wednesday it had provided a letter of undertaking in relation to uncollected cargo that has led to the seizure by Iranian authorities of the vessel Maersk Tigris.

"Today, we have had a constructive dialogue with the Iranian courts and Ports & Maritime Organization," the Danish shipping company said in a email to Reuters.

"Earlier today, we provided a letter of undertaking in relation to the underlying cargo case," it said, without giving further details of what the undertaking may be.

U.S. Navy ships began accompanying U.S.-flagged commercial vessels through the strait on April 30, a move reflecting heightened tension in the region. Iranian ships shadowed the U.S.-flagged Maersk Kensington on April 24.

UPDATE: U.S. Navy Stops Accompanying Ships Through Strait of Hormuz

The U.S. Navy has stopped accompanying commercial ships through the Strait of Hormuz, a mission it began last week in the wake of Iran's seizure of a cargo ship, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the decision was taken after several days of accompanying U.S. and British commercial ships without incident. He stressed that U.S. Navy ships in the area would still conduct routine maritime security operations.