It started on Saturday 8th May, 2021 around 1010 hrs when the Libyan tug SILIN towing the 159 metre tanker GULF PETROLEUM 4 was called on vhf Ch 12 by Valletta VTS to stay at least 26 miles offshore Malta.
Few minutes later during conversation exchanges between the ships, radio officer aboard the tanker stated that he was aboard for the past 17 months and no idea when he’s going back home.
At 1350 hrs tanker asked Valletta VTS if there are any updates as she was bound to Palumbo Malta Shipyard for repairs which the reply was No News.
At 1442 hrs GULF PETROLEUM 4 was heard asking the tug SILIN if she’s going back to Misurata, Libya.
At 1442 hrs tanker asked Valletta VTS if there are any updates which the reply was No News.
At 1626 hrs tanker was seen 42.9nm south off Malta –
Back to 13th March, 2020 the tanker GULF PETROLEUM 4 arrived at Benghazi, Libya allegedly with cargo of aviation fuel (AVGAS) for Libyan National Army (LNA), adversary of Libyan Government of National Accord LGNA. Tanker left Benghazi on 16th March, went off AIS radars on 18th March, being in Gulf of Sidra, and reappeared on 22nd March issuing distress signal. LGNA in its’ statement said, that tanker was seized by LGNA in the evening 22nd March, to be taken to LGNA controlled port for investigation. 23rd March morning Mar 23 she was already in Misurata waters. Not clear what happened, and whether there was an explosion or not since the previous day she reported that she suffered explosion in engine room around 1630 UTC in vicinity 32 00N 015 55E, off Libyan coast. Unknown number of crew injured, understood in need of medical assistance. Tanker understood to be disabled, drifting. She was engaged in operations in Gulf of Sidra since 16th March after leaving Benghazi Libya.
She was built in South Korea as CHEMTRANS ELBE in 2009 and was renamed to her current name since 1st March, 2018.
During the night of Sunday 9th May, she was being observed doing 7.4 knots heading to Al Khoms, Libya.
SILIN was delivered in December 2005 as Damen Stan Tug 2608 as yard number 509802 for the Libyan Government Socialist Ports Co based in Misurata, Libya now named as Libyan Ports Company and she’s 26.09 metre long with 7.94 metre beam and 176 GRT. She’s powered by 2 Caterpillar 3512C TA HD with 2612 kW (3,500 bhp) , fixed pitch propellers and a bollard pull of 49.1 tons.
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Published – Sunday 9th May, 2021.