A tanker that was reportedly seized by US authorities, in a move that is believed to have sparked a retaliatory vessel detention by Iran, appears to be on a course to the US Gulf Coast.
Voyage tracking platforms show Empire Navigation’s 159,000-dwt tanker Suez Rajan (built 2011) is south of Haiti on a heading that is consistent with a course to the US Gulf Coast.
The suezmax tanker’s voyage across the Atlantic is being closely watched after several media outlets reported that US authorities seized the vessel. The seizure took place after it departed a Singapore anchorage, where it had been anchored amid a controversy over its crude cargo, which is believed to be of Iranian origin.
Iran responded to the move by seizing the 159,000-dwt suezmax tanker Advantage Sweet (built 2012), which is owned by Advantage Tankers and chartered to US oil giant Chevron.
Satellite tracking data from Clarksons’ Sea/ platform shows the ship travelling 10.4 knots on a north-westerly course.
The Suez Rajan is controlled by Greece’s Empire Navigation, which could not be reached after Athens business hours on Wednesday. The company has the vessel on bareboat charter from Fleetscape, a leasing arm of Oaktree Capital Management.
Oaktree and the US Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for details of the voyage, and several sources with knowledge of the legal battle over the vessel and its cargo remained tight-lipped about its current voyage. A search of the US federal court docket shows no new legal action against the tanker or its cargo.
As TradeWinds has reported, the tanker had been held up in Singapore for more than a year amid efforts to seize its oil cargo to satisfy US judgements against Iran.
Court records in one of the cases showed that US authorities had been carrying out a parallel investigation over whether that cargo is of Iranian origin.
The ship departed a Singapore anchorage in April and travelled north along the Malaysian coast before turning back, sailing across the Indian Ocean and then disappearing from the satellite tracking map. It later reemerged in the Atlantic and travelled slowly northwest.
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