PortandTerminal.com, September 10, 2019
Six weeks after the recently renamed Adrian Darya 1 was detained by Gibraltar a judge there ordered the ship’s release based upon Iranian promises that the tanker “would not deliver its oil to the Syrians“. At a minimum, it was a breathtakingly naive decision by the judge.
WASHINGTON – Everyone in the world with the exception of one judge in Gibraltar knew that the Iranian promises were not to be trusted.
The closely-watched Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1 arrived off the Russian naval base at Tartus, Syria on Friday, and an active debate is now underway over whether she has unloaded her cargo. It doesn’t really matter either way. Either the ship has offloaded the oil or it will do so as soon as logistical arrangements can be made. The barn door was opened by the judge in Gibraltar and the horses have fled.
For what it is worth though, the latest reports from TankerTrackers.com today are saying the vessel has not yet offloaded its cargo of oil to Syria. It will soon in all probability. There’s no other reason for it to be there.
Why does it matter?
If the tanker has offloaded its cargo of oil it would be a diplomatic coup for the government of Iran and a minor setback for American efforts to block the flow of Iranian oil to Syria.
The U.S. State Department has gone to considerable lengths to prevent the Darya’s arrival in Syria, including unsuccessfully trying to bribe the vessel’s captain with $15 million dollars to take it another location where American forces could seize it.
It also means that the judge in Gibraltar who ordered the release of the Adrian Darya 1 based upon Iran’s promise NOT to take its cargo of oil to Syria is either compromised or a naive fool. Yes, this is a strong accusation to make against a sitting judge. But the question has to be asked, was the judge in Gibraltar in any way compromised by Iran or was it just naive decision to have made? America tried to compromise the ship’s captain. It would only be fair play if the Iranians compromised the judge in Gibraltar.
The tanker, which was carrying 2.1m barrels of oil, was detained on suspicion of illegally transporting oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions targeting the murderous regime of Bashar al Assad.
Six weeks though after the tanker was detained a Gibraltar judge ordered the release of the Grace 1 based upon Iranian promises that the ship “would not deliver its oil to the Syrians”.
For now, that’s all water under the bridge. What matters is that the judge in Gibraltar released the tanker against American legal challenges based upon false Iranian promises.
“The Adrian Darya oil tanker finally docked . . . and unloaded its cargo,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state-owned news outlet IRNA on Sunday. Mousavi said that the tanker had arrived on the “Mediterranean coast,” without referring to Syria. (NOTE: This is probably an untrue statement based upon TankerTrackers.com visual data from today)
On Friday, former U.S. national security advisor John Bolton released satellite imagery showing the Darya at a position about two miles off Tartus. The latest satellite imagery of the Darya from PlanetLabs shows that the ship is still anchored and casting only a small shadow, according to satellite data analysis firm TankerTrackers. With the time of day and the size of the vessel known, the width of a vessel’s shadow as seen from space can be used to calculate draft; based on this method, TankerTrackers asserts that as of Monday, the Darya is still carrying her full cargo of 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude.
The Darya is still anchored several miles from the unloading facilities at Tartus, which do not have the depth to accommodate a VLCC of her size. To offload her cargo at Tartus, she would need to conduct at least one ship-to-ship transfer. She has not yet been photographed with another vessel alongside.
The Darya is larger than other Iranian tankers in the vicinity, but in some ways her situation is unexceptional. Other blacklisted Iranian tankers have continued deliveries of oil to Syria throughout the Adrian Darya’s two-month ordeal in the Mediterranean, though without the same level of scrutiny.
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