- On September 16, 2015 at 10:50 (Moscow time) M/V Mekhanik Chebotarev was stopped by a warship under the flag of Libya at the point with the following coordinates: 33°13.1'N, 012°26.08'E, 17 miles off the shore, beyond the territorial waters of Libya.
Having boarded the ship without giving any reason of the detention, the Libyan military transshipped two crewmembers to the warship and ordered the Makhanik Chebotarev captain follow their warship. Both INMARSAT and AIS were switched off though the captain managed to inform the company about the incident and to press the alarm button following which all the prompt response forces of Russia were informed.
Following the order of the armed military, the tanker went to port Tripoli and moored there. The documents and cell phones of all the crewmembers were confiscated as well as the ship documentation.
No official statements, accusations or demands of the local authorities in respect of the company or the captain have been announced so far.
The crew, upon further orders of the armed military on board the tanker, moved the ship to the port of Misurata where she is now.
Yesterday, the captain was asked to inform the ship owner on the necessity to ensure the presence of a translator for signing of some documents.
Under the contract, the ship can operate in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea including the safe zone of port Zawiya (Libya), Malta, Tunis, Italy, Cyprus, Georgia and Beirut (always in compliance with the vessel’s class).
According to the sailing direction, the ship left port Kavkaz (Russia) in ballast (with no cargo) for the port of Zawiya (Libya) via the ports of Istanbul and Malta where she was supplied with food and spare parts.
5 miles off Zawyia the ship was to be handed over to the charterer for further operations. No call at the port was planned.
The ship entered the area of operation while in ballast (with no cargo). The ship design does not imply crude oil transportation and the ship documentation confirms that. That means that crude transportation is out of the question.
The tanker could be used only for transportation of light oil products like diesel fuel and gasoline with density not exceeding 0.94/cbm.
Therefore, some media speculations on vessel’s smuggling of oil from one of Libyan ports disagree with the facts.
We consider the detention of the ship to be illegal and contradicting the norms of the international law.
The ship’s crew numbers 12 members including a woman who is a cook. All the crewmembers are the citizens of the Russian Federation.
On September 18, 9 crewmembers including a woman were accommodated at a military base (with all conveniences), 45 minutes by driving off the port of Misurati.
Crewmembers accommodated on-shore have food taken from the ship. Three crewmembers were left onboard for watchkeeping.
All crewmembers are in normal physical condition, though physiologically suppressed. The seamen bear up with real professionalism, their families were promptly informed on the incident. Permanent connection is ensured to keep them informed.
The crew and the ship have been properly ensured with first class companies - Allianz and The Standart, London.
It is difficult for forecast. We keep in touch with the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, Federal Security Service of Russia etc. and try to solve the problem as fast as possible in compliance with the Plan on Vessel’s Transport Security.
The charterer is also involved in and gives every assistance in the process.
We express our confidence in settling the situation according to the norms of the international law to return the crew to the normal existence, to let the families meet their relatives in good health and to get the ship returned to the owner without any claims.
We are a Russian shipping company operating 12 tankers. Within the framework of our activities, a sort of misunderstanding with supervisory authorities is sometimes possible.
All issues brought up by customs authorities, Russian Maritime Register of Shipping or tax authorities have always been settled exclusively within the legal framework under the applicable laws of the Russian Federation.
To protect our interests we used to resort to judicial authorities. As a rule, the judgments were positive for us.
The comment provided for IAA PortNews