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Report: Dark Fleet Tanker Had a Collision off Denmark

Chart showing Andromeda Star's trackline in the Kattegat
Andromeda Star made a sudden full stop on March 2 off Skagen (Pole Star)

Published Mar 19, 2024 2:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

A recent collision involving a "dark fleet" tanker has revived Denmark's worst fears about the ships that carry hundreds of thousands of barrels of Russian crude through the Danish Straits every day. If something should go wrong, it is unclear whether the true owner could be found, or whether an insurer would pay to cover the costs of a cleanup. 

On March 2, the 15-year-old tanker Andromeda Star was involved in a collision with an unnamed vessel, the Danish Maritime Authority confirmed to Bloomberg. AIS data provided by Pole Star shows that at about 0700 hours that morning, the tanker slowed to a sudden stop as it rounded the northern tip of Jutland. The ship was in ballast condition at the time and was headed for a Russian port to load oil. 

After the encounter, the Andromeda Star anchored south of Copenhagen until March 16, when it relocated to an anchorage next to the ship repair yard in Odense. 

Andromeda Star was sold to undisclosed buyers four months ago, and its Equasis record has not been updated with the identity of the new owner. Its Indian manager, Margao Marine Solutions, was launched in late 2022 and operates three older tankers, all flagged in Panama. 

The Star's P&I insurer is not listed in her Equasis record, and a search for her coverage information in the database of the International Group of P&I companies returns no results. The dark fleet has largely turned to using second-tier insurance options outside of the International Group, since the G7 price cap policy restricts which Russian cargoes are eligible for European or American coverage.  

The risks of questionably-insured dark fleet tankers are at top of mind for Denmark's maritime regulators. Last week, investigative NGO DanWatch and the Financial Times reported that one of the largest alternative insurers - Russian firm Ingosstrakh - may deny casualty claims if the insured cargo breached the G7 price cap. Since insurance of this type is often purchased for that purpose, and many cargoes departing Russia's Baltic ports are known to breach the price cap, Denmark may face a substantial uninsured risk in the event of a spill - especially since many "dark fleet" tankers are approaching or beyond typical retirement age for a crude-carrying vessel.