United States Navy SEALs from a Virginia-based
DEVGRU SEAL team launched a Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) operation from the USS Roosevelt (DDG-80) at midnight Cyprus Time, Monday, using helicopters and fast boats to regain control of a North Korea-flagged oil tanker approximately 18 miles off the coast of Cyprus. They inserted with MCADS (Maritime Craft Aerial Delivery System) and took control of the ship.
This action was originally reported as a DEVGRU mission. SOFREP has confirmed that DEVGRU did not conduct this mission and were spun up for a different mission.
The Morning Glory is a 21,000 ton oil tanker that escaped the Libyan Navy last week. More than 234,000 barrels of oil was loaded on the tanker, worth about $20 million dollars.
“The Morning Glory is carrying a cargo of oil owned by the Libyan government’s National Oil Company,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. “The ship and its cargo were illicitly obtained from the Libyan port of Es Sider.”
The tanker escaped Libya’s warships to international water due to bad weather, humiliating Tripoli’s authorities, who are still struggling to control the country since NATO intervened in 2011, ending the 42-year rule of Gaddafi. The Libyan Navy is mostly equipped with small vessels, such as fast boats, making them impossible to pursue heavier ships in the Mediterranean when the weather is bad, especially in rough waters.
Libyan militia leader Ibrahim Jathran blockaded Libya’s main oil port for more than 8 months. The Morning Glory was operated by his militia and her content was destined to the Black Market. Jathran likes to be called the “Libyan Robin Hood,” as they demand a bigger share of oil revenue and more political autonomy.
After the SEAL gave the “all clear” signal back to the Roosevelt, US Navy crew from the USS Stout (DDG-55) took over the Morning Glory and are now sailing towards an unnamed Libyan port where it will he handed over to the Libyan government.
Although the tanker was sailing under a North Korea flag, the North Korean state news agency (KCNA) stated that the ship had nothing to do with their country. Pyongyang had already cancelled and deleted the ship’s registry since it violated the prohibition of transporting contraband cargo.
No casualties were reported following the SEALs’ intervention.