MarineTraffic.com, citing satellite data, showed the Stena Impero just outside the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas Friday morning, where it had been held since being seized by Iran on July 19. There was no immediate comment from the ship's owners or Iranian authorities. The ship-tracking data showed the ship was stationary at 12:48 a.m. ET.
The U.K.-flagged Stena Impero, which had 23 crewmembers of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationalities aboard, was seized by Iran's Revolutionary Guard forces during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters.
Iran released seven of the ship’s crewmembers earlier this month. Sixteen remained on board. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard initially said it seized the ship for allegedly failing to comply with international maritime laws and regulations, according to The Associated Press.
The vessel is owned by Stena Bulk, a Swedish shipping company. Stena Bulk CEO Erik Hanell told Reuters Wednesday that the ship had not been cleared to leave Iranian waters despite Tehran officials announcing Monday that the vessel was free to go.
“We haven’t been accused of anything. Not through any formal letter or anything else to the company. We are still in the dark over why we are anchored in Bandar Abbas,” Stena Bulk CEO Erik Hanell told Reuters in a phone interview. “We don’t know where in the process from the decision for the ship to be able to leave to the port authorities actually releasing the ship has got stuck.”
He added that the crew was still waiting for Iranian guards to leave the ship to it could set sail.
On Monday, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei told journalists that legal proceedings against the tanker had ended and a detention order on the vessel had been lifted. He claimed "based on a friendly approach that allows forgiving mistakes, ground for freedom of the tanker has been paved and it can move." Stena Impero’s seizure came after authorities in Gibraltar, which is a British territory, on July 4 seized an Iranian tanker carrying $130 million in crude oil on suspicion of it breaking European Union sanctions on Syria. Gibraltar later released the tanker, then called the Grace 1, in August after it said Iran promised the ship wouldn't go to Syria. That ship, renamed the Adrian Darya 1, later sat off the Syrian coast, angering Britain. Iran hasn't said who purchased its 2.1 million barrels of crude oil.
Tensions have been high in the Persian Gulf since President Trump last year pulled U.S. backing from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers and imposed crippling sanctions on its vital oil trade. Iran since has begun breaking terms of the deal.
Meanwhile, there have been a series of attacks across the Middle East that Washington blames on Iran. They reached their height on Sept. 14, with a drone and missile attack on the world's largest oil processor in Saudi Arabia and an oil field, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War.
Fox News’ Greg Norman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.