‘Grace 1’/‘Adrian Darya 1’ Seems Headed to Turkey… or is it Lebanon?
An Iranian-flagged supertanker wandering the eastern Mediterranean in search of a place to offload its contentious cargo of crude oil is headed for Turkey once again, according to the latest shipping reports. The vessel, at the time called the Grace 1, was impounded off Gibraltar in early July on suspicion of breaking European Union sanctions by heading for Syria. It was released in mid-August, at which time it was renamed Adrian Darya 1. Shipping reports after its release showed it cruising for Turkey. In addition, efforts were reportedly made to offload in Greece, but the government in Athens refused permission. Earlier this week, Iran claimed it had sold the crude to an unnamed buyer, apparently in an effort to circumvent US sanctions on its oil exports. The latest intended port is Turkey’s Iskenderun – although when asked, that country’s foreign minister denied this, saying the vessel was headed to Lebanon. The impounding of the Grace 1/Adrian Darya 1 was made possible by British marine commandos, who boarded it from helicopters as part of a surprise nighttime operation. In retaliation, Iran commandeered a British-flagged tanker, the Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz in mid-July. That vessel remains impounded at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.