Cuban officials Wednesday released a cargo ship carrying New Zealand's defeated America's Cup sloop after the ship had strayed into Cuban waters and was forced into port, officials said.

Steve Snider, a spokesman for Sen. Lowell Weicker, R-Conn., said Wednesday Cuban officials in Washington had advised him that the Tampa Seahorse was being escorted back to open seas."The crew is safe and they are or should be on their own now in international waters," Snider said. "The Cubans detailed a frigate to escort them out of Cuban waters."

The Tampa Seahorse was intercepted Tuesday by Cuban gunboats and escorted to Cayo Malo, 500 miles east of Havana, said Petty Officer Dan Vogeley of the U.S. Coast Guard in Miami. The cargo ship carried New Zealand's 132-foot sloop that was entered in the America's Cup race.

"There were no reports of use of force," said Vogeley, who said the U.S.-registered cargo ship was in international waters when it was intercepted.

"We advised him to comply with the Cubans," Vogeley said after the American skipper of the Tampa Seahorse radioed Miami at 3 p.m. to report he was being approached by Cuban gunboats.

Snider said eight Americans and one New Zealander were aboard the ship, which was taking the sloop to New York for a race.

Cuba claims a 12-mile territorial limit and a State Department spokesman in Washington said it was possible the ship was in Cuban waters as it sailed off the southeastern coast of Cuba near Punta Masai in the Windward Passage, which separates Cuba from Haiti.

The Tampa Seahorse is owned by Zapata Gulf Marine Corp of Houston and was carrying New Zealand's entry in the America's Cup from San Diego to New York.