Twenty-five U.S. Navy personnel remain aboard the oil tanker Morning Glory after a team of Navy SEALs boarded and took control of the ship on March 17, Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said yesterday.
U.S. forces took control of the tanker in international waters at the request of the governments of Libya and Cyprus following its seizure earlier this month by three armed Libyans.
“The Morning Glory is carrying a cargo of oil owned by the Libyan government National Oil Company. The ship and its cargo were illicitly obtained from the Libyan port of As-Sidra,” Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement released on Tuesday.
The U.S. sailors aboard the tanker are supervising the transit and performing security, navigation and communications tasks, Warren said, and the SEALs have left the ship.
“The USS Stout is escorting the Morning Glory towards Libya. The three Libyans who had taken control of the Morning Glory remain now under U.S. control aboard the Morning Glory,” the colonel said.
The 21-person civilian crew, consisting of six Pakistanis, six Indians, three Sri Lankans, two Syrians, two Sudanese and two Eritreans, also remain aboard the ship, he said.
The ship is underway to an as-yet undetermined spot in international waters near Libya to await a final port decision, Warren said, noting that discussions have begun on turning the three Libyans over to the Libyan government.
Press Release, March 20, 2014; Image: US DoD