U.S. Navy SEALs Assault, Recover Stolen Libyan Tanker

Nobody hurt in commandos' late-night helicopter assault in Mediterranean.

Libyan Minister of Culture Habib Mohammed al-Amin, left, speaks as Libyan Justice Minister Salah al-Mirghani, right, listens on, during a press conference on the latest developments around the North Korean-flagged tanker on March 9 in Tripoli, Libya.

Libyan Minister of Culture Habib Mohammed al-Amin, left, speaks as Libyan Justice Minister Salah al-Mirghani, right, listens on, during a press conference regarding the hijacked North Korean-flagged tanker on March 9 in Tripoli, Libya. 

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A team of U.S. commandos successfully recaptured a tanker ship full of stolen oil in the Mediterranean Sea late Sunday night under the control of three armed Libyans. 

President Barack Obama approved the mission for a team of U.S. Navy SEALs operating from the USS Roosevelt to assault the tanker Morning Glory via helicopter and retake control. The SEALs are assigned to Special Operations Command Europe. 

The tanker, previously flagged to North Korea and Liberia, had been searching for a friendly port to dock after sailing from a rebel controlled area in Libya earlier in March, reports the Guardian. 

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The Roosevelt, a guided missile destroyer, served as both the staging ground and the command and control center for the operation, which took place in international waters near Cyprus. Both the Libyan and Cypriot governments requested U.S. assistance in retaking the tanker. 

Nobody was hurt in the mission, said Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby in a statement early Monday. 

The oil aboard the Morning Glory is owned by Libyan government-owned National Oil Company, Kirby said. It had been stolen from the Libyan port city of As-Sidra. 

The Morning Glory will be underway soon to a port in Libya under supervision of a team of sailors from the USS Stout, he said. 

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The Washington Post reports the Libyan rebels were reportedly trying to sell the oil on the black market

In a statement issued March 7, the State Department said it was “deeply concerned” about the Morning Glory’s theft both for the sake of the Libyan people as well as Libyan National Oil Company backers, which includes U.S. companies. 

“Any oil sales without authorization from these parties places purchasers at risk of exposure to civil liability, penalties and other possible sanctions in multiple jurisdictions,” the statement said.