US Navy Attacks, Captures Libyan Oil Tanker

US: Large Number of Commandos Seized Ship

The long, meandering voyage of the North Korea-flagged oil tanker Morning Glory came to an end overnight, when a “large number of commandos” from the USS Roosevelt attacked and captured the ship.

The Morning Glory was carrying tens of millions of dollars worth of oil from the Sidra oil terminal, a Libyan terminal once operated by the state oil company in cooperation with Western oil companies (primarily Italy’s Eni) but now under control of secessionists.

The Libyan government botched their attempt to capture the Morning Glory, setting it on fire with a missile but allowing it to escape into the sea. The ship apparently had no idea who to sell the oil to, however, and was just milling about the Mediterranean Sea near Cyprus hoping to find a buyer for its grey-market crude.

The US spun the attack as “supporting our Libyan partners.” Libya considered the ship loading oil an “act of piracy,” though the International Maritime Bureau insisted this was not the case.

Considering how long it took for the US to catch up with the ship it may not be much deterrent for future tankers to try the same thing, as if they’d actually had someplace to sell the oil lined up beforehand the transaction would likely have been completed before the US got there.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.