The Iranian Navy's Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari stated on 25 August that the country's naval forces are ready to escort the oil tanker Adrian Darya (formerly known as the Grace 1), recently released by Gibraltar authorities after more than a month-long detention, if Tehran deems it necessary.
"Iran's naval forces have already safeguarded over 6,000 vessels passing through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and are ready to escort Iranian vessels anytime and anywhere that is needed", the admiral said.
The Iranian oil tanker, Grace 1, was arrested in Gibraltar by local authorities on 4 July over a tip from the US, claiming that the vessel was delivering its cargo to Syria thereby violating the EU's sanctions against Damascus. Tehran slammed the detention as an illegal act of "piracy" and demanded the ship be released immediately.
Following a probe by Gibraltar into Washington’s claims, the Grace 1 was set free on 15 August despite a last minute effort by the US to prevent it by issuing an arrest warrant, something which was rejected by the UK overseas territory's authorities. Upon its release the tanker then changed its name to Adrian Darya.
The US is still seeking to detain the tanker under the arrest warrant, which was filed with a sloppy mistake. In light of the reports that the ship might dock in Greece, Washington warned Athens, as well as other countries and their businesses that they might face US sanctions if they "assist" the Iranian tanker in any way. The most recent reports indicate that the Adrian Darya is heading for Turkey.
The Iranian tanker’s brief detention caused a row between Tehran and London, which was followed by the detention of a British tanker in the Persian Gulf by Iranian authorities over alleged maritime violations. Tehran, however, claimed that the detention was not tied to the spat around the Grace 1.