LPG Tankers in Deadly Fire Were Named on U.S. Sanctions List
According to a new report, the LPG tankers involved in the deadly blaze near the Kerch Strait were on the U.S. Treasury's list of vessels involved in providing petroleum cargoes to Syria, in violation of U.S. sanctions.
The ships have been identified as the LPG tanker Venice and the LPG tanker Maestro, both Tanzanian-flagged and both owned at one post office box in Anguilla. AIS data confirms that both vessels were operating in the Black Sea region within the past month, but their signals were not received in the vicinity of Kerch Strait on day of the casualty.
According to a new report by Reuters, the Maestro (but not the Venice) was banned from the LPG terminal at the Russian port of Temryuk due to the U.S. sanctions. The Venice continued to access the port, which is located about 30 nm from Kerch Strait. The two LPG tankers were engaged in a ship-to-ship transfer at the time of the fire, a strategy that is sometimes used to circumvent port access restrictions or sanctions measures.
The U.S. prohibits foreign nationals from providing material support to the government of Syria, including shipments of petroleum to Syrian government ports, and the Venice and Maestro both appear on the list of vessels known to Treasury to have been involved in delivering cargoes to Syria. According to Reuters, both vessels have continued to trade near the coast of Syria and Lebanon since the sanctions list was issued. Their AIS transmissions were either disabled or not received before they reached a port.
According to the Treasury, "signs of manipulating AIS transponders should be considered red flags for potential illicit activity and should be investigated fully" by commercial counterparties in the maritime industry.