By Asa Fitch / www.wjs.com / May 7th, 2015
DUBAI—Maersk Line said Thursday that the M/V Maersk Tigris, a cargo ship under its charter, had been released more than a week after its seizure by Iranian naval vessels raised tensions in the Strait of Hormuz.
In a statement, the Danish shipping giant said it was “pleased and relieved” to learn that the ship had been freed and that, according to Rickmers Shipmanagement, which managed the vessel, its crew was in good condition.
It said the ship had resumed course to its original destination, the port of Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates.
According to Maersk and Rickmers, the Marshall Islands-flagged M/V Maersk Tigris was seized April 28 near the Strait of Hormuz, as it was en route from Jeddah to Jebel Ali. Iranian patrol boats fired warning shots across its bow and directed it to a rendezvous point near the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
Iranian officials have said the vessel was seized because of a previous court ruling ordering Maersk Line, which charters the ship, to make a payment to settle a dispute with a private Iranian company called Talaieh Pars Oil Products Co.
“The release follows a constructive dialogue with the Iranian authorities, including the Ports and Maritime Organization, and the provision of a letter of undertaking in relation to the underlying cargo case,” Maersk Line said in its statement on Thursday. “We will continue our dialogue with the aim to fully resolve the cargo case.”
The seizure came at a time of heightened tensions in the region. Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main rival for power in the Persian Gulf, is leading an air offensive against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The U.S. and five other world powers are attempting to finalize a deal to limit Iranian nuclear activities, in exchange for an easing of international sanctions against the country.
In response to the Maersk Tigris’s seizure, the U.S. military began providing escorts for American-and British-flagged vessels passing through the 21-mile-wide Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf outlet through which flow about 30% of the world’s seaborne oil shipments. On Wednesday, a Pentagon spokeswoman said those escorts had ended.
—Costas Paris contributed to this article.
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