- A Guyana-flagged oil tanker operated by a company in Dubai has been missing for more than a month after taking on a shipment of crude oil valued at over $30 million headed for China.
- The last time that the tanker, named the Winsome, regularly transmitted its location via the Automatic Identification System (AIS) was on July 5, shortly after it departed from a port in Oman.
- The AIS showed that the tanker was headed eastward, but the destination was not specified.
A recent news article published in the Israel Defense website states that oil tanker missing for more than a month.
Signal from the ship
An AIS signal received in the beginning of August indicated that the ship was in the harbor of the city of Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates, but over the last few days it was found to be anchored at the port of Bandar Abbas in Iran.
The tanker had a crew of about 30 people. Attempts to contact the tanker via a satellite phone did not succeed.
The oil being carried by the ship is owned by Orbit Petrochemicals, a company based in Oman, and managed by a Chinese logistics company, which have been trying to locate the ship, its cargo and its crew ever since it disappeared.
An AIS signal picked up at the beginning of August indicated that the ship was in the harbor of the city of Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates.
But the ship was located during the last few days anchored at the port of Bandar Abbas in Iran. Apparently the Iranians are transmitting fake AIS signals from the ship.
Is tanker hijacked?
The tanker seems to have been hijacked and brought to Iran as part of Iran’s war in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman against Israel and the U.S., and as a demonstration of power.
It should be noted that last week there was another attempt to hijack a tanker, the Asphalt Princess, and bring it to the Iranian coast, but the crew disabled its engine, enabling naval forces to rescue the ship.
Details of the vessel
The Winsome, which was built in the year 2000, was owned by Indian shipyard Lynx Marine until June of this year.
The identity of the current owner is not known. The tanker operates under the management of Dubai-based logistics and transportation company Clara Shipping.
Over the last year, the tanker has been registered under four different flags – Liberia, Panama, Gabon, and finally Guyana. The two companies declined to comment on the incident.
Hijacking of the ship is another aggressive step
As for Iran, the hijacking of the ship is another aggressive step by the Islamic country to establish deterrence and consolidate power, especially in the maritime domain.
It raises the question whether China is also involved in hijackings by assisting in the acquisition of the oil and identifying potential targets for such actions.
In any event, Iran’s maritime aggression in recent months in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman indicate both an escalation by Iran as well as a U.S. deficiency in terms of intelligence and operations in the domain.
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Source: Israel Defense