Iran released a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship today, Tehran's official IRNA news agency reported. The agency cited a source inside the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization, saying that the organization will issue a statement later in the day with details of the ship's release. Iranian forces seized the MV Maersk Tigris on April 28 after firing warning shots across its bridge as it traversed the Strait of Hormuz. It was taken to Bandar Abbas, the main port of Iran's navy, under escort by Iranian patrol boats. The seizure stems from a legal complaint by a private Iranian company. A day after the ship was impounded, Iran's Foreign Ministry defended the move as legally valid, saying the vessel was seized based on a court decision.
Danish shipping company Maersk Line chartered the container ship from Singapore-based Rickmers Ship Management and insists it carried no "special cargo" such as military equipment. "Right now I cannot confirm anything. We will send out a statement if or when something happens," a Maersk Line spokesman told the AP in Copenhagen. A Rickmers Ship Management spokesman told the AP in an email that his company had heard the same Iranian media reports, but did not yet have confirmation that the ship had been released. Following the Maersk incident, Washington adopted a policy change, allowing any US-flagged ship to be accompanied by Navy warships through the narrow strait. The Strait of Hormuz is the route for about a fifth of the world's oil and is only about 21 miles wide at its narrowest point. (Read more Strait of Hormuz stories.)