Russian tanker SIG (IMO 9735335), which was attacked by a Ukrainian naval drone on the night of 5 August 2023, south of the Kerch Strait, has been violating sanctions numerous times while its owner likely has contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense on delivering fuel to the Russian army in Ukraine and Syria, Black Sea Monitoring group reveals.
According to the director of this Ukrainian service monitoring shipping in the Black Sea, Andriy Klymenko, the Black Sea Monitoring Group first recorded the tanker as a violator of Crimean sanctions on 05 December 2017. Then it delivered 6,500 tons of diesel fuel to the Feodosia oil depot in Crimea from the Russian port of Novorossiysk. At that time, there was no Kerch bridge, and fuel was transported to the occupied Crimea by sea.
In total, before the commissioning of the Kerch bridge (May 2018), the tanker conducted at least 21 such deliveries, violating sanctions. It performed most of the passages to occupied Feodosia with the AIS transmitter turned off while officially reporting that the destination port is Port Kavkaz (Russia).
After that, the ship regularly transported gasoline and diesel fuel from the Feodosia oil depot to the Syrian port of Tartus, supplying the Russian military group in Syria, including the “Syrian squadron” of the Russian Navy).
The ship returned from its last voyage to Tatus on 01 August 2023 without cargo to the site south of the Kerch Strait in the territorial sea of Ukraine.
This tanker also crossed the Bosphorus numerous times, usually turned off AIS in the Mediterranean Sea on the approach to Cyprus, and then went to Tartus with the AIS transmitter turned off. Its photos from space were repeatedly recorded in the port of Tartus at the naval base of the Russian Navy.
Therefore, the shipowner of the tanker most likely has a long-term contract with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation to supply petroleum products for the Syrian group of Russian troops, Klymenko concludes. The same transportation is constantly carried out by the tanker “Yaz” (YAZ, IMO 9735323), which belongs to the same shipowner. The shipowner and the vessel are under the sanctions of Ukraine and the USA.