Panama revoked registrations of tankers flying under their flag that have not complied with sanctions. Most are Iranian tankers. Vessel seized in Gibraltar, Grace I, flying under Panamanian Flag. Registration revoked in May. England seizing justified

(edited)

Looks like Grace I was flying under Panama flag that was revoked back in May.

UNREGISTERED STATELESS SHIP

IRANIAN PIRATE SHIP. .  .  .  . . LOL

A big NO  NO. 

Looks like the Grace 1 is an unregistered or what is known as a "stateless vessel".  Therefore has no protection under U.N. Conventions of the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS). The ship was in England's territory in Gibraltar.  

As such unregistered vessels are not afforded the protection of international Laws of the seas. Therefore are subject to the territorial jurisdiction of the "authority at the scene". England is that "authority".

England's Navy was exercising their "Rights of Approach" . . . . . their right to investigate a ships  Flag.

Stateless ships are deprived the privilage of the right to enter or leave territorial waters. Military ships can stop and board stateless ships and question them and if any improprieties hold the ship. (UNCLOS ARTICLE 110)

Some maintain that this right also exist outside of territorial waters and can be exercised on the open sea in the same manner.

Begs the question how many other unregistered Iranian vessels out there ? Could be in the twenties. 

Could definitely hamper Iran's attempts to circumvent sanctions. I can't imagine US stopping an Iranian ship on open seas . .   . .  however, would a potential buyer have second thoughts about transacting an oil delivery which may be confiscated.

Iran has no legal basis to get their ship and oil destined for Syria returned. England's Navy's actions are quite legal. 

Ballsy move by England.

What happens next ? 

 

 

 

Edited by Falcon
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(edited)

12 hours ago, Falcon said:

Looks like the Grace 1 is an unregistered or what is known as a stateless vessel.  Therefore has no protection under U.N. Conventions of the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS). The ship was in England's territory in Gibraltar.  

As such unregistered vessels are not afforded the protection of international Laws of the seas. Therefore are subject to the territorial jurisdiction of the authority at the scene.  

England's Navy was exercising their "Rights of Approach" . . . . . their right to investigate a ships  Flag.

Now this is a very interesting development.  

In my (admittedly untutored) view there are at least two ways that a ship can end up unregistered, thus without a national flag.  One is where the registering authority removes registration.  This could conceivably result from a failed inspection, where the ship is declared unseaworthy;  the owners are found to be habitual offenders as to registration and seaworthiness requirements.  Another would be where the nation itself dissolves, by internal revolution or war.  Registrations in Cyprus would get entangled in this.  Yet another is where the owners simply do not re-register, pay the fees, or otherwise end up outside the system. 

So the interesting question results, if the de-registration or revoked registration is the result of some external event or act that is beyond the control of the shipowner, then what allowances are made if the ship is out on the high seas  (which is likely the case).  I would argue that the requirement of safety at sea, under SOLAS or otherwise, would mandate that the ship continue its transit to destination or secure port where it can "sit" unmolested until the owners can sort it out.  In this case it appears that the owners ignored the problem and loaded the vessel, and departed port, knowing that the ship had been de-registered.  That puts the owners in a bad light. 

My guess is that the ship sits at Gibraltar until someone shows up with new registration papers.  What happens to the cargo is yet another matter. A bandit cargo on a black-flag ship.  Not a good start, that's for  sure. 

Edited by Jan van Eck
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(edited)

Panama stated they revoked registration of 30 ships with the excplicit reason being non compliance with sanctions.  Most of the ships were Iranian. 

The Grace I was flying under the Panamanian Flag even though they knew it was revoked. 

Their Republican Guard are deep into Iran's businesses and control key industries. My guess is they may be involved with ownership and the Panama authorities took action. Remember the US sanctions also froze assets of some of Iran's leaders (some Republican Guard), which are involved with terrorism and violating sanctions. 

Nice to see some cooperation from England and Panama. 

 

Edited by Falcon
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Piecing together some information, it seems that Grace 1 was de-registered by Panama on 29th May, and subseqiently seized by UK on 4th July.

Which would tally with @Falcon's musings above.

 

Panama Revoked Seized Iranian Tanker License over Terrorism-Related Accusations

The Iranian oil tanker "Grace 1" seized by the British Royal Marines in Gibraltar, is no longer registered in its international ship record since May 29th, Panama Maritime Authority said Thursday July 4th, according to Reuters.

The authority said it had lifted Grace 1 from its records after a warning that the ship had been involved in or associated with terrorist funding. Although the tanker is flying the flag of Panama, Iran has declared its ownership of the vessel, objecting to its detention.

==================================

Gibraltar Police Say Four Crew Of Seized Iranian Tanker Freed On Bail

... British Royal Marines on July 4 boarded the Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar and seized it over suspicions it was breaking sanctions by taking oil to Syria. ...

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(edited)

Looks like Brits will release ship if they can get a guarantee the oil is not going to Syria and after due process in the Gibraltar courts.

As the ship is presently a "stateless vessel" anyone with a legitimate claim to ownership can petition the Gibralter Court for the return of the ship.  

Will be interesting . . . . the Iranian (or whomever owns) owners or their representatives will have to go in front of the court and answer specific questions and explain themselves. 

Who owns ship ? Iran ? Republican Guard ? National Oil Company ? Other Shell Company ?

No registration. 

Brits are still signature to Obama nuke deal.  They were very careful to state they are holding the ship on separate EU sanctions against Syrian Assad, not the new US sanctions.

That does not limit US from stopping unregistered Iranian ships on violation of US sanctions.  A more complicated and controversial issues.  Very unlikely, but always an option.

The top 4 ranking men on the Grace I  were arrested (including Captain) and questioned before release. What did they have to say ?

Let's see who shows up to claim the Grace I ownership.

Always something. 

 

Edited by Falcon

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What is interesting about this tale is that there do not appear to be any Iranian nationals on board that ship.   There were 28 crew, and that consisted of nationals from India,  Pakistan, and Ukraine.  It would not surprise me if the Captain and Second Mates were all from Ukraine.  Presumably that is why there was no resistance:  these guys had no ideology, they were just employees - although of whom, is not clear.  This case continues to get murkier and murkier. 

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Hi

32 minutes ago, Jan van Eck said:

What is interesting about this tale is that there do not appear to be any Iranian nationals on board that ship.   There were 28 crew, and that consisted of nationals from India,  Pakistan, and Ukraine.  It would not surprise me if the Captain and Second Mates were all from Ukraine.  Presumably that is why there was no resistance:  these guys had no ideology, they were just employees - although of whom, is not clear.  This case continues to get murkier and murkier. 

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(edited)

1 hour ago, Falcon said:

 

I wouldn't know but I would guess that if you looked at the crew nationality of any merchant maritime ship you would find a potpourri of international citizenship. Nature of the business.  

I do agree if the captain and senior crew were all from Ukraine it would raise some questions.

Don't think any merchant sailor just doing his job would resist 40 heavily armed British commandos that are backed up by Agustawestland attack helicopters.

Edited by Falcon

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2 minutes ago, Falcon said:

Don't think any merchant sailor just doing his job would resist 40 heavily armed British commandos that are backed up by attack helicopters.

Nope, not those guys.  Time to line up at the rails and salute!  

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