The tanker which was earlier detained by Gibraltar authorities over a tip from the US, claiming that the vessel was carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions against Damascus, is now fewer than 10 nautical miles from the shores of Syria, according to intelligence sources, cited by Fox News.
Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, previously known as Grace 1, has gone dark on maritime tracking resources, transmitting its position for the last time almost a day ago – at 15:53 2 September, Marine Traffic reported. The ship’s last known position was pinpointed to be in the East Mediterranean, not far from the west coast of Syria and the east coast of Cyprus.
The intelligence sources told the broadcaster that the captain of the vessel, Akhilesh Kumar, has been refusing to cooperate with the planned oil delivery and has asked to be dismissed or replaced.
The ship has been carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil worth around $130 million. On Friday, the Treasury Department hit the tanker and its captain with sanctions, among the latest punishments targeting Iran’s energy industry.
The oil tanker was detained by authorities in the UK overseas territory of Gibraltar, on 4 July over a tip from Washington that it was carrying a shipment of crude to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. Tehran later denounced the claims and slammed London over the ship’s arrest, resulting in worsening bilateral relations between the two states. Iran accused London of “piracy” and said the ship’s detention is a violation of the Iran nuclear deal.
The vessel was let go on 15 August after more than a month-long detention and ventured further into the Mediterranean, changing its name from Grace 1 to Adrian Darya 1. The US unsuccessfully tried to prevent its release by issuing an arrest warrant, which was hastily filed with a sloppy mistake, and still hopes to detain the vessel and its cargo.