Indonesia Detains Iranian Crude Oil Tanker Caught in Illegal STS Transfer

Iranian tanker detained
Indonesia's Coast Guard caught two tankers during an illegal ship-to-ship oil transfer (Bakamla photos)

Published Jul 11, 2023 11:33 AM by The Maritime Executive

Indonesia with assistance from Malaysian troops is reporting that it has seized an Iranian-flagged tanker caught in the act of making an illegal ship-to-ship oil transfer. It is the first time in two years that Indonesia has acted against illegal transfers happening in its waters and comes as Indonesia and Iran had been working to expand trade. 

The head of Indonesia’s Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) Rear Admiral Aan Kurnia held a press conference to detail the joint actions of the coast guard and the Indonesian Navy along with APMM Malaysia. He reported that the Indonesia Coast Guard caught two tankers in the act during a ship-to-ship oil transfer without a permit. It was happening in the waters of North Natuna.

When the Indonesians came upon the two vessels neither was displaying a flag. They attempted to hail the Iranian tanker Arman 114 and received no response. The tanker, which was built in 1997 and is registered in Iran, also was not transmitting accurate AIS data.

“MT Arman was spoofing their automatic identification system to show its position was in the Red Sea,” Aan said during the briefing.



When the Indonesians moved in to inspect, they reported that the Iranian tanker tried to escape. The 300,500 dwt tanker was attempting to sail into international waters. The Indonesians received assistance from Malaysian forces which boarded the tanker from a helicopter. 

The Arman 114 has frequently been identified by watchdog organizations as a notorious sanction buster. The vessel is 1,082 feet long and according to the Indonesian authorities is loaded with 272,569 metric tons of light crude oil.

The other vessel involved in the transfer was displaying the name S Tinos and reporting to be registered in Cameroon. A review of databases however shows that this vessel which had once been owned by Euronav was scrapped five years ago. Its last known owners had registered the vessel in Palau. The identity of the vessel is still being confirmed.



In addition to detaining the tankers, the Indonesia Coast Guard reported that there were 31 people aboard the Arman 114, including 28 crewmembers. Three people, the members of the family of the security officer, are being considered passengers.

Earlier this year, Indonesia and Iran showed signs of improving relations. In May, during a visit to Jakarta, a new trade agreement was signed between the two countries.

During today’s briefing, Aan vowed that Indonesia will increase its patrols and crack down on illegal transfers. “There has to be a deterrent effect,” he told reports saying this can not happen again.

Indonesia detained an Iranian tanker in 2021 also for making an illegal ship-to-ship transfer. The Iranian-flagged MT Horse owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company, and the Chinese-managed, Panama-flagged MT Freya, were also operating dark. The Batam District Court found the vessels and their captains guilty, ordering them to pay a fine and expelling them from Indonesia.