A leading UK lawyer believes the US could seek to take control of a VLCC detained in Gibraltar under suspicion of carrying Iranian oil to Syria.

The 301,000-dwt Grace 1 (built 1997), operated by Iships of Singapore, remains under investigation in the British territory. It could be in breach of both EU sanctions against Syria and US sanctions against Iran.

Stephen Askins, a partner at Tatham & Co, said the case has parallels with the US-backed detention of the 27,900-dwt North Korean vessel Wise Honest (built 1989) in May in Indonesia.