Libyans Released Russian Crew
Ten crew members who were aboard the Russian-flagged M/T Mekhanik Chebotarev have been released after being detained by the Libyan government for nearly one month. There were 12 crewmembers onboard when the vessel was detained on September 16.
Two crewmembers were released on October 9 and October 12 respectively. The remaing 10 were released on October 13. Oil Marine Group has not confirmed whether the vessel has been returned.
The self-declared government in Tripoli detained the vessel last month saying it was attempting to smuggle oil out of the port of Zawara. Libya is entangled in a conflict between two rival governments. One has been internationally recognized and the other is self-declared.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry demanded the immediate release of the Mekhanik Chebotarev and its crew on September 17. The tanker was transporting one million gallons of fuel when it was arrested.
Two Russian crewmembers were told to board the Libyan warship and the tanker’s captain was instructed to turn off its automatic identification system (AIS) and its crewmembers’ cell phones were also confiscated.
The captain of the tanker repored the onging situation to Russian emergency services. The tanker was escorted a naval base in Tripoli and the crew was questioned. The Libyans revealed it had received information that the tanker was tranporting illegal fuels and investigated the matter.
The Oil Marine Group operates 12 tankers and is registered in St. Petersburg. Oil Marine Group released the following statement regarding the incident: “Media allegations that the vessel was smuggling oil from one of Libya’s ports are groundless. The ship was empty. The arrest is illegal.”
Source: The Maritime Executive.