at approx 2300 local, coalition forces boarded and took control of M/V
Navstar I, and have detained its crew.
Seizure of the tanker follows discovery that the tanker was carrying at
least 1100MT of unauthorized diesel fuel during a routine boarding on August
4, 2003. The ship was repeatedly
directed to return to its last port of call.
A boarding party from the HMS Sutherland led the operation
with support from the USS Rodney M. Davis, USCGC Wrangell, and a Royal Navy
Lynx helicopter. The coalition forces
will take the M/V Navstar I back to the Port of Umm Qasr where the crew will
be turned over to Iraqi police.
Ambassador Bremer commented: “Smuggling oil and oil
products is a crime against all Iraqis.
Smugglers steal money from the Iraqi people, and the oil products
which they need. The seizure of the M/V Navstar I demonstrates the commitment
of the coalition forces and the Iraqi police to protecting Iraq’s assets, so
that they can benefit all Iraqis, rather than the criminals.
The criminals, who attempt to steal Iraq’s oil, once
encouraged and abetted by the former regime, will now be found and prosecuted
by the coalition and Iraqis working together.”
Note to Editors:
Film footage of the boarding operation is available from ABC News/New