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John Bolton reiterates US stance towards controversial Iranian VLCC

An Iranian suezmax is charging through the Red Sea, widely tipped to come alongside the Adrian Darya 1 VLCC, the world’s most tracked ship over the past week since it left the shores of Gibraltar, heading east through the Mediterranean.

The Iranian VLCC, formerly known as Grace 1, was freed by Gibraltar authorities eight days ago after six weeks’ detention for carrying oil bound for sanctions-hit Syria.

The fully laden tanker had an initial destination flagged as Kalamata in Greece. It will need to offload some 700,000 barrels of oil to be able to transit the Suez Canal. However, the tanker changed its destination to Turkey on Friday night and then to ‘For Order’ over the weekend, meaning the ship is waiting to hear where its destination will be.

The United States has told all Mediterranean ports not to assist the ship, as the US says the vessel is linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which is deemed as a terrorist organisation in Washington. John Bolton, Donald Trump’s national security advisor, tweeted a few hours ago, “The illicit oil heading to Turkey on the Adrian Darya 1 must not be allowed off-loaded in port or at sea.”

Splash understands US military forces have been practicing taking over the VLCC.

The tanker is now in international waters between Greece and Libya. Officials at MarineTraffic, the world’s most visited ship tracking site, told Splash today the Adrian Darya 1 position on the MarineTraffic Live Map is averaging about 7,000 unique views a day for the last five days, with a further 2,300 views a day visiting its vessel details page.

There is still no news regarding release of the Stena Impero, a UK-flagged product tanker seized by Iranian special forces on July 19, likely in retaliation for Britain’s decision to arrest the Adrian Darya 1 on July 4.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. The following headline appeared in today’s maritime media! This may upset the US applecart?

    “Iran says Adrian Darya 1 crude oil cargo sold”
    Tehran says it no longer owns the crude oil caught up in diplomatic controversy with the West

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