Detained UK Tanker Stena Impero Leaves Iran

The Stena Impero under way once more, background (Royal Navy)

Published Sep 27, 2019 5:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

AIS tracking shows that the long-detained product tanker Stena Impero has finally departed Iranian waters, and owner Stena Bulk has confirmed her release. 

“The Stena Impero has now left Iranian waters and is on route to Dubai," said Stena Bulk CEO Erik Hanell. “The master has reported that all crew members are safe and in high spirits following release. Upon arrival, the crew will receive medical checks and de-briefing by the company, following which arrangements have been made for them to return directly to their families in their respective countries.”

Hanell praised the crew for their professionalism, and he thanked their families for their support. He also thanked the Swedish foreign ministry and the government of the United Kingdom for their assistance, along with the embassy staffmembers representing India, Russia, Latvia and the Philippines in Iran. 

Iranian authorities said that the Impero was free to go on Monday, but she did not immediately depart. Satellite imagery showed that she left her anchorage briefly mid-week for a short trip to the pier in Bandar Abbas, then returned to anchor. She got under way at last on Friday. 

Commandos from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized the UK-flagged Stena Impero as she transited the Strait of Hormuz on July 19. The UK Royal Marines conducted a similar seizure of the Iranian VLCC Adrian Darya 1 (ex name Grace 1) on July 4, and the Impero's detention was widely seen as a retaliatory measure targeting British shipping. Iran denies any connection between the two tankers' circumstances.

The Adrian Darya 1 is still in laden condition and anchored off the coast of Syria, where she has been stationed since early September, according to satellite imagery analysis by TankerTrackers.