On Friday, the Libyan coastguard shelled and sank the product tanker Goeast off Abu Kammash, Libya, near the border with Tunisia. The vessel spilled an unknown quantity of diesel and capsized.
Libyan officials said in a social media post that the vessel had been loading fuel from an offshore loading pipeline. A coast guard vessel reportedly approached and attempted to contact the Goast to prepare for boarding and inspection. When the coast guard received no response, they opened fire, striking the tanker's engine room and one of her cargo tanks, according to spokesman Ayoub Gassem, speaking to Libya Herald. The action was intended to send a firm "message" to any future fuel smugglers.
The coast guard did not immediately mention the fate of the Goeast's crew, nor whether pollution control measures were undertaken. According to Libyan officials, the vessel was loaded with about 9,000 tons of diesel, near to its maximum capacity of 9,700 dwt.
The Comoros-flagged, 1977-built Goeast was one of four vessels owned by Uvas-Trans, a shipping firm based in Russian-controlled Crimea. She was not the first of the firm's vessels to be accused of fuel smuggling. In 2015, the Uvas-Trans product tanker Smolnywas detained near Kerch by the Russian Federal Security Service on charges of entering Russian waters and bunkering other vessels with undocumented diesel.
"The crew . . . lacked the entire service documentation and the [AIS]. This means the [Smolny] was actually a ghost invisible for state controlling bodies," the FSB told state news outlet TASS.
Update from FleetMon 08 Oct 17
Oct 8 Update: Tanker loaded contraband oil or oil product some two miles off coast, from a pipeline, she was spotted by Libyan Coast Guard in the morning Oct 6 and requested to stop, but didn’t obey. Tanker was shelled from 30-mm gun, shells inflicting holes in cargo tanks and engine room areas, with ensuing water ingress. Tanker developed list, judging from photo it should be portside list. CG boat returned to Tripoli, leaving tanker alone. Not clear what’s pouring from tanker into water – ballast water, pumped out water, or cargo? If it’s cargo, it doesn’t look like oil, it looks like some light fuel, diesel or kerosene or something like that. As of 0730 UTC Oct 8, no information available on tanker's present position and status.