Posted on July 04, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis
A unit of Royal Marine Commandos raided the Panama-flagged Crude Oil Tanker, Grace 1 during the early morning hours of June 4th, as the vessel was transiting through the strait of Gibraltar.
The VLCC, which had been carrying over two million barrels of crude oil, was suspected of breaching the EU sanctions against Syria.
The vessel, which was allegedly transporting crude oil to Syria’s Banyas refinery, had been previously suspected of being involved in illegal transfers in Iran.
The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabio Picardo has issued a statement as to the event.
"In the early hours of this morning, Gibraltar Port and Law Enforcement agencies, assisted by a detachment of Royal Marines, boarded a supertanker carrying crude oil to Syria.
"We have detained the vessel and its cargo. This action arose from information giving the Gibraltar Government reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel, the Grace 1, was acting in breach of European Union sanctions against Syria.
"In fact, we have reason to believe that Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas Refinery in Syria. That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria," reads the statement from Mr Picardo.
According to authorities in Gibraltar, both the vessel and its cargo have been detained. Reportedly, the tanker’s cargo had originated in Iran. This is collaborated by mapping data that indicates the vessel's journey had originated in Iran.
This presents a somewhat unorthodox transit, as the vessel attempted a longer route around southern Africa, instead of the Suez Canal.
Image Courtesy of Marine Traffic