Iranian oil tanker wanted by US changes course

'Adrian Darya 1', previously known as 'Grace 1', searches for safe harbour

An Iranian flag flies at Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, before being named as Grace 1, as it sits anchored after the Supreme Court of the British territory lifted its detention order, in the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain, August 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jon Nazca
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The Iranian Grace 1 tanker, released from British custody in Gibraltar earlier this month and until recently called the Grace 1, has suddenly changed course as the vessel seeks a place to unload its cargo.

Early on Tuesday the vessel, which Iran renamed the Adrian Darya 1, altered its path by about 80 degrees to the northeast as it moves south of the Greek island of Crete. Its final destination is unclear.

The ship’s recent pattern of movements suggested daily orders were being issued on what to do next, the Tanker Trackers website said.

On Monday Iran said it had found a buyer for the oil on-board the Grace 1 but refused to divulge the identity of the prospective purchaser. The crude oil in its tanks is worth around $130 million.

The US has issued a detention order of the ship amid tensions with Iran and could sanction the eventual buyer.

British commandos seized the Grace 1, then named Grace 1, in early June on suspicion of breaking European Union sanctions targeting Syria.

After its release earlier this month the vessel headed for Kalamata, Greece, but the Greek government blocked the move. It then set out for the Turkish port of Mersin but on Monday appeared to have changed course again.

Iran has detained the British-flagged Stena Impero since mid-July amid a heightening of tension between the two sides.