NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – WAVY.com confirms a Virginia Beach based Navy SEAL team is responsible for boarding a commercial tanker seized by armed Libyans Monday morning near Cypress.
The stateless ship was seized by three Libyans earlier this month. It contains oil that belongs to the Libyan government.
Capt. Gregory Hicks, spokesman with the Navy’s European Command (EUCOM) based in Stuttgart, Germany said the Virginia Beach based SEALs are on a six-month deployment within the Special Operations Command, Europe (SOCEUR).
“The boarding operation, approved by President Obama and conducted just after 10 p.m. EDT on March 16 in international waters southeast of Cyprus, was executed by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs attached to Special Operations Command Europe,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.
The SEAL team operated from the guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt which also provided helicopter support.
Hicks told WAVY News’ Deanna LeBlanc a large number of SEALs boarded the Morning Glory. He would not comment on a specific number of SEALs or on how they got on board citing that it “it touches on tactics, techniques, and procedures of an incredible capability.”
The three rebels are still aboard the Morning Glory, according to Hicks. They’ve been detained and separated from the rest of the crew.
After the SEALs secured the ship, Hicks said about two dozen sailors from the Norfolk based destroyer USS Stout boarded the Morning Glory. That crew will monitor and supervise the ship’s return voyage to an unnamed port in Libya, which is expected to take about four days. The Stout is escorting the Morning Glory’s return.
Navy personnel interviewed the Morning Glory’s 21-person crew and verified that everyone is safe. Crew members come from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Syria, Sudan and Eritrea.
The Stout sailed from Norfolk back in August of 2013. About halfway through its deployment in December, the Stout was sent to the Mediterranean to monitor the escalating crisis in Syria.
Hicks says this mission will not imapct the Stout’s homecoming, saying “We are committed to maintaining her scheduled return.”