Iranian oil tanker reappears in eastern Mediterranean

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The following is an English-language version of Levant Network research prepared for Akhbar Alaan.

An Iranian oil tanker has reappeared in the eastern Mediterranean Sea months after it turned off its transponder, according to maritime data and experts tracking vessel movements.

Corporate documents reviewed by Levant Networks reveal that the vessel named SAHRA is managed by a shell company formed last year in Iran’s Kish Island.

On Saturday, the SAHRA tanker started transmitting its location from a position approximately 70 kilometers northwest of the Syrian port city of Latakia, according to data reviewed by Levant Networks.

In the following hours the Iranian tanker, which is under US sanctions, sailed northward away from Syria out to sea. 

Yoruk Isik, an Istanbul-based vessel-tracking expert, on Monday posted a photo to Twitter of the SAHRA sailing in the eastern Mediterranean. 

Meanwhile, Samir Madani, who closely follows Iranian oil tankers, wrote on Twitter that the Sahra was previously in the Syrian port of Baniyas while its location transponder was turned off.

Madani, who co-founded, wrote that the SAHRA “is one of Iran’s smaller crude carriers” and can transport approximately 700 thousand barrels of crude oil.

The SAHRA previously broadcast its position on February 17 after it sailed through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. Iranian oil tankers regularly turn off their location transponders in a bid to hide their movements and evade sanctions.

The US Department of the Treasury sanctioned the SAHRA on September 4, 2019 for being one of the oil tankers used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force.

On September 30, the vessel came under the management of a new company, Noah Maryam Kish Ship Management Company, in Iran, according to maritime data.

Iranian corporate records reviewed by Levant Networks show that Noah Maryam Kish Ship Management Company was formed that same month in Kish Island, a free-trade zone of Iran.

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