By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 23 August 2013:
Dramatic footage has emerged of a 20-metre Libyan navy patrol boat apparently forcing a 340-metre supertanker to change course away from Sidra, where it was thought it would take on an unauthorised shipment of crude oil.
A week ago, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan warned that any suspect vessel entering Libyan waters would be fired on without warning.
At one point in the clip published on the Libyan navy’s Facebook page, someone aboard the patrol boat Janzour is seen aiming an RPG toward the port bow of the Liberian-flagged A Whale, as the naval captain is heard calling on the tanker to change course. The weapon, held by a man on the patrol boat’s unsteady foredeck, was not fired however because there appeared to be a problem with the trigger mechanism.The noise of semi-automatic weapons and what appeared to be a single heavy machine gun, punctuated the footage, which runs for a minute and forty seconds.
The 319,000 ton tanker was clearly in ballast and from its small bow wave appeared to be slow steaming. It carried the letters “TMT” in large white letters on its side.
There are two parts to the video. The first was taken when it was still light but dusk was gathering. From the patrol boat’s position on the left of the tanker, it is still heading south toward the Libyan coast. The second, shorter part of the clip, however, shows the tanker with the setting sun on its port bow, meaning that it had changed course and was heading roughly northwards, with the Janzour still to its east. Although much further away from the suspect ship, perhaps as far as a kilometre, there is still sporadic small arms fire from the patrol boat, along with triumphant shouts of “Allah Ahkbar”.
The interception of the tanker on Tuesday evening, some 20 kilometres off the Libyan coast, came hours after the naval high command ordered patrols to sea to stop any vessels that were not scheduled with the NOC to load oil at any of the four terminals – Brega, Sidra, Ras Lanuf and Zuweitina - where operations have been halted by strikes and blockades. All naval personnel were ordered to report to their posts.
The A Whale was built in 2010 in South Korea for TMT (Taiwan Maritime Transport) and, according to Wikipedia, almost immediately refitted in Portugal to help clean up the BP Macondo rig oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Before sailing to Libya, the tanker was reported at Port Said.