A sanctioned oil tanker that recently left the UAE port on July 5, 2020, violating its ‘Prohibition to Sail’ notice has been hijacked, reported the seafarers’ organization Human rights at Sea.
The oil tanker, that was sought by the US over evasion of sanctions is licensed to an Iran individual – Amir Dianat, also called Ameer Abdulazeez Jaafar Almthaje.
Human Rights at Sea was the first to bring it to notice after signals received from the vessel about 8 days ago. The observation of the location of the MT Gulf Sky and its Indian crew of 22 people was its last location and is currently out of range.
Ships, especially Iranian ships are known to often shut off their Automatic Identification System Tracker to mask their movements. MT Gulf Sky turned its off on July 5th After tracing its location, courtesy TankerTrackers.com, it was found on Hormuz Island, offshore Iran, about 190 km north of Khorfakkan where the vessel had been kept seized for months.
David Hammond, CEO of Human Rights at Sea confirmed the hijack after taking a witness statement from the captain of the vessel, MT Gulf Sky. He also reported that all Indian sailors except 2 made it to India, safely. The latter stayed back in Tehran. According to the International Labour Organisation, the vessel and the sailors had been abandoned by the owner of the ship since March, stranded onboard with no pay.
The hijack comes months after tensions between Iran and US elevated and tankers in the Mideastern waters became targets, especially the one near the Strait of Hormuz. 20% of all oil passes through this narrow mouth.
Having been under arrest under a UAE Admiralty Law, it was prohibited to sail through the Commonwealth of Dominica while staying anchored at Port Khor Fakkan Ach. The US recently filed charges against Amir Dianat for its involvement with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) as well as other business associates for generating revenue by smuggling and money laundering of about $12 million that is filed under a related civil forfeiture action.