By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli/Benghazi, 9 March 2014:
Military forces are preparing for the departure of a North Korean-flagged tanker that has been . . .[restrict]loading an illegal shipment of crude from Es-sider oil export terminal.
There are four vessels under the control of the Libyan navy waiting outside the harbour, naval sources said. The boats were on standby for the tanker’s departure, he said, and would escort it to another eastern port where it would be apprehended.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said yesterday that the tanker would be bombed if it did not obey instructions from the Navy. Today, however, the government had changed tack and said the vessel would be seized if it tried to leave Es-sider.
There have also been reports that 13 boats have been sent from Misrata to support operations to prevent the tanker leaving Libyan territorial waters. These are mainly fishing vessels that have been fitted with anti-aircraft guns, Misratan sources told the Libya Herald. The weapons, he said, were not for use against the tanker, but for protection if any forces operating under Ibrahim Jadhran opened fire.
The Mistratan boats left this afternoon, once the weapon modifications had been completed, the source said, and would position themselves off the coast of Es-sider.
They were determined either to escort the tanker to Tripoli, or sink it, he added.
The oil tanker, named Morning Glory, finished loading operations today. Federalist sources claimed it loaded the equivalent of 350,000 barrels of oil (b/o) but other shipping sources claim the ship loaded was only to 60 percent capacity with 185,000 b/o. [/restrict]