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Iranian crane vessel released from Kuwaiti port after 10 months: Operator

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This undated photo released by IRNA agency purportedly shows Arvand Tide 1000, the Iranian crane vessel which has been released from a Kuwaiti port 10 months after it was “illegally” seized by authorities in the small emirate.

The private owner of a major Iranian crane vessel says the ship is returning to the country’s southern coasts 10 months after it was illegally "seized" in a Kuwaiti port.

Tidewater Middle East Co., the largest Iranian port operator, said on Monday that the vessel, dubbed Arvand Tide 1000, had been released from Kuwait’s Port of Shuaiba before sailing toward Iran late on Sunday.

The company said the ship had been seized in Kuwait for “baseless allegations” last year right after the discharge of a 180-day chartering contract with a Kuwaiti company.

“Having entered the international waters, the vessel is continuing its journey toward the country (Iran),” it said in a statement published by Iran’s official IRNA agency.  

The statement described Arvand Tide 1000 as a ship that is “equipped with one of the most vital appliances in Iran’s marine and offshore industry”, adding that the 1,000-ton crane onboard the vessel has frequently been used in oil and gas operations.

The port operator, whose shares were transferred to private owners last year, said it would pursue the case of the vessel in international courts to seek reparation from port authorities in Kuwait.  

The US government has put Iran's Tidewater on its list of sanctions against Iran claiming that the company is linked to Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). 

Iranian authorities have rejected the allegations while repeatedly condemning Washington for its use of sanctions to weaken the Iranian economy.

Iran has used large crane vessels to install key structures in its offshore oil and gas fields. The oil ministry said over the weekend that one such structure, a super-size drilling rig, had been successfully installed by Iranian technicians and workers at phase 14 of South Pars gas field, located some 100 kilometers off the port of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran.

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