Iranian-flagged, ex-Russian-flagged tanker Lana / Pegas, which was seized by Greece in April, and saw part of its cargo confiscated by the US, was being towed to the port of Piraeus on Saturday July 2nd, Greek coast guard officials said, after Greek authorities approved its release.
For more than two months the Lana had been anchored off the Greek island of Evia as part of a diplomatic deadlock between the US, Greece and Iran.
“It left Karystos at 06:30 am (03:30 GMT) and is expected to reach Piraeus around 10:00 pm,” one official said.
Following an appeal by an Iranian company on June 7th a Greek judicial panel overturned the court order that had allowed the confiscation of the cargo on behalf of the US, clearing the way for Lana to retrieve it.
It was not immediately clear if it would do so, or if the US or Greek governments would challenge the latest ruling.
The Greek authorities impounded the Lana in April, along with its oil cargo and 19 Russian crew members, due to sanctions following legal action by the US.
That decision was overturned on June 10th due to complications regarding their ownership. However, then the ship was detained by another company over debts owed for towing services. The Lana, which has engine problems, was officially released after that amount owed was paid off, legal sources told Reuters.
Part of the ship’s Iranian oil cargo had already been transferred to another ship, crude oil tanker Ice Energy (IMO 9301732), which was hired by the US and which is currently moored off Piraeus.
The removal of oil from the Lana prompted Iranian forces last month to seize two Greek tankers, the Delta Poseidon (IMO 9468671) and Prudent Warrior (IMO 9753545) in the Persian Gulf off the Iranian coast, allegedly for violation of maritime regulations. Iran sailed them back to Iran after Tehran warned of “punitive action” against Athens. They have not yet been released.
The Lana was previously called the Pegas and sailed under a Russian flag. It was designated under sanctions by the US in February for being owned by a subsidiary of Russian financial institution PSB.
Then, in a US court filing in May the US government said the Pegas had received a cargo of Iranian oil from an Iranian tanker via a ship transfer in Iranian waters. It said the sale of the cargo was “for the benefit” of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and their expeditionary wing, Quds Force, both of which have been designated by Washington as foreign terrorist organisations.
According to a Greek court document seen by Reuters, the US had initially requested Greece’s intervention against Pegas on April 20th, arguing that the revenue from its cargo “would help support a terrorist group”.
The document said an arrest warrant had been issued by a US court against Pegas on April 15th, which allowed the confiscation of its cargo as the ship’s former owner had been sanctioned by the US. However, the judges ordered the release of the cargo on the basis that its owners had already changed on April 1st, before the US request was sent. The document said none of the cargo’s current or former owners had been sanctioned, and no evidence was presented that either was linked to the illegal actions the US cited.
2011-built, Greece-flagged, 81,619 gt Delta Poseidon is owned by Delta Poseidon ENE care of manager Delta Tankers Ltd, Athens, Greece. It is entered with Gard on behalf of Delta Poseidon Special Maritime Enterprise.
2017-built, Greece-flagged, 81,287 gt Prudent Warrior is owned by Bonita Transport Ltd care of manager Polembros Shipping Ltd of Athens, Greece. It is entered with American Club on behalf of Bonita Transport Ltd.
2006-built, Liberia-flagged, 38,832 gt Ice Energy is owned and ISM managed by Baxter Trading Inc of Athens, Greece. Commercial manager is Dynacom Tankers Management Ltd of the same address. It is entered with North of England on behalf of Baxter Trading Inc. As of July 3rd it was anchored off Piraeus.