Iranian Tanker "Not Heading" Towards Greek Port

The small harbor at Kalamata, Greece (file image)

Published Aug 22, 2019 9:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

The blacklisted Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1 is "not heading" for Greece, despite information in her AIS broadcast to the contrary, Greek Prime Minister Kyrikos Mitsotakis said Thursday. 

"The ship is not heading towards Greece. We have not received a request for it to dock in a Greek port," Mitsotakis told France 24 TV in an interview. 

On July 4, UK Royal Marines boarded the Adrian Darya 1 - then named the Grace 1 - in the Strait of Gibraltar and seized her on suspicion of trafficking oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. She was taken to the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar and impounded pending an investigation. The territory's supreme court ordered her release last week and she departed Gibraltar Sunday. Over the days since, she has been making her way slowly eastwards through the Mediterranean with a broadcast destination of Kalamata, Greece.

The port of Kalamata is much too small to accommodate a VLCC at berth, and it lacks any form of refinery or crude oil offloading facility, leading to speculation that the vessel's actual destination may still be Syria - or a rendezvous with another vessel for a ship-to-ship transfer. Greek officials have maintained that they have received no notice of arrival or request to enter port.

This week, the United States has warned repeatedly that any maritime stakeholder should avoid even "touching" the Darya or her cargo, even by accident. “All parties in the shipping sector should conduct appropriate due diligence to ensure that they are not doing business with nor facilitating business for, directly or indirectly, sanctioned parties or with sanctioned cargo,” an unnamed official told Reuters Thursday. The U.S. State Department has warned foreign seafarers that they may face a travel ban if they work aboard a tanker carrying Iranian oil. 

“The shipping sector is on notice that we will aggressively enforce U.S. sanctions,” the official said. 

As of Thursday, the Darya's AIS signal showed her making eight knots on an easterly course, moving slowly on a route well outside of the main cross-Mediterranean shipping lanes.