Iranian tanker seized by Royal Navy has been released, according to reports

A view of the Grace 1 supertanker at anchor in the British territory of Gibraltar, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar.  Picture: AP Photo/Marcos Moreno
A view of the Grace 1 supertanker at anchor in the British territory of Gibraltar, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar. Picture: AP Photo/Marcos Moreno
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AN IRANIAN tanker taken by the Royal Navy on suspicion of shipping oil to Syria has reportedly been released.

Supertanker Grace 1 was detained in Gibraltar following a navy operation, after it was believed to violate European Union sanctions, increasing tensions in the Gulf.

READ MORE: Gibraltar denies it is gearing up to free Iranian tanker

Signalling preparations for the expected release of the ship, the captain, an Indian national, and three officers of the Grace 1 were released from detention early on Thursday.

Now, authorities have allegedly released the Iranian vessel.

The Supreme Court in Gibraltar had delayed a decision to release the ship after the US Department of Justice made a last-minute application to extend the vessel's detention, the Gibraltar government said earlier on Thursday.

But the Gibraltar Chronicle reported there was no US application before the court when the hearing resumed on Thursday afternoon.

The Grace 1, carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil, was seized on July 4, and led to Iran later seizing the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which remains held by the Islamic Republic.

Analysts hope the release of the Grace 1 by Gibraltar will see the Stena Impero similarly freed from detention.

The British Foreign Office has been working to defuse tensions with Iran, but have remained tight-lipped over the ongoing investigation into the incident, after the United States sought to take the vessel via legal action.

It said that ‘investigations conducted around the Grace 1 are a matter for the government of Gibraltar’.