VLCC Detained in Gibraltar

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Thursday July 4, 2019

VLCC Grace 1 has been detained in Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, the Chief Minister of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar said in a statement today.

Picardo said the the vessel is suspected of carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas Refinery in Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.

A team of about 30 marines were reportedly flow into Gibraltar and boarded the tanker as part of the overnight seizure, in what the BBC quoted a defence source as saying was a "relatively benign operation”.

Commentary alongside images released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the Royal Marines from 42 Commando took part in the seizure.

“They were followed on board shortly by Gibraltar police and the ship was handed over to them to continue with further checks and procedures. The operation went off without a hitch and commandos were able to board the vessel quickly,” MoD added.

MoD sources say they were acting on behalf of British police, however Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said the vessel was detained at the request of the US.

White House national security adviser John Bolton welcomed the development as “excellent news”.

"UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions. America & our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran & Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade," Bolton tweeted Thursday.

Iranian officials have described the “illegal seizure" as a “form of piracy”, and have summoned the British ambassador in Tehran.