Tanker that collided with Maersk-operated containership accused of sanctions-avoidance

Further details have emerged of the collision between crude oil tanker Zephyr I (IMO 9255880) and container ship GSL Grania (IMO 9285653) early on September 27th local time in the Malacca Strait, halfway between Malacca City and Singapore, including a claim that the Zephyr I was in the process of sanctions-avoidance.

The tanker was reported to have struck the container ship in the starboard stern, causing both ships to sustain heavy damage. Both ships were anchored after the collision. The tanker was loaded with bitumen and was heading for China, while the container ship was en route from Savannah to Tanjung Pelepas, ETA September 27th.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) is reporting no injuries to the 45 crew on both vessels or oil leaks, but questions were being asked about the identity of the tanker and its current operations. Maritime Commander Mohd Haniff Mohd Yunus of the MMEA said that “The Batu Pahat maritime zone operations centre dispatched the Benteng 05 boat to the location to carry out a monitoring and assistance mission. Preliminary accident information received from the captain of MV GSL Grania stated that this violation was caused by MV Zephyr I losing control and crashing into the right side of the vessel causing damage.”

The MMEA ordered both vessels to anchor. They reported that verification was taking place to the damage to both vessels as well as further investigation into the cause. Pictures show significant damage to the bow of the tanker and a large dent in the stern quarter of the 814-foot long containership.

The tanker was reported to be sailing to Yantai, China loaded with mixed bitumen. Earlier this year US authorities had cited the 20-year-old vessel for deceptive actions and Lloyd’s List is reporting that they believed the vessel was avoiding sanctions. They believe it had loaded its cargo in Russia.

The vessel’s AIS signal lacks details on the destination or voyage and ownership of the vessel is unclear. It was reported to have changed names and owners at least twice this year.

The containership is operating under charter to Maersk and is owned by Global Ship Lease. Maersk confirmed that the vessel was involved in the accident, and reported no injuries or loss of containers. Maersk reported that the vessel would proceed when released by the Malaysian authorities to the port for a further inspection.

The Malaysian Maritime Department said that it was monitoring the condition of both vessels and that it had sent a team to investigate the reports of the steering failure and to determine the cause of the collision. They have also issued a warning to all ship traffic in the area for added caution while transiting the area.

2002-built, Palau-flagged, 59,719 gt Zhen 1 (Equasis listing) is owned by Skylla Navigation Corp care of Monumont Ship Management Ltd of Istanbul, Turkey.

2004-built, Liberia-flagged, 83,133 gt GSL Grania is owned by Global Ship Lease 32 LLC care of manager ConChart Commercial of Athens, Greece. ISM manager is Technomar Shipping Inc of Athens, Greece. It is entered with UK Club on behalf of Global Ship Lease 32 LLC.