We have seen several issues in the last week regarding the Strait of Hormoz; most interesting is the M/T Riah, which is getting half-baked exposure. You see, a ship gets registered, a ship is usually insured and it has an owner. I know this because I attended the Merchant Naval Academy in the 70’s. For all kinds of reasons, a lot of these ships tend to have a Panama registration, yet it is registered. So when I see: ‘It is not clear which country or company owns and operates the Riah‘, i know that there is a hidden stream going on. From conception to death time (last week) there were owners, a ship was bought, a ship was sold and there will be a new owner, the fact that the media is not able to tell us anything implies that this ship has a very different duty and owner. It is like watching stolen cars, for the most we can see the Vehicle identification number (VIN) when it is a stolen car, if that is not available we can start with the engine number. Now there is a lot we can do with cars, but the knowledge to erase its identity only goes so far. With ships there are a lot less options to hide. There is the engine number, the serial number of the Gyroscope, radar serial numbers (larger vessels often have more than one), the list goes on and as such we can paint a picture how the gear moves and likely in several cases the owner has been the same and it is all linked to the boat itself. It seems that the media did not that much digging. For a ship to fall of registries takes a lot of muscle and a lot more knowhow, so I am at a loss why we see: ‘It is not clear which country or company owns and operates the Riah‘, and not: ‘Shipping Line X, who owned the M/T Riah confirmed that there was a new owner as per [insert date], yet was unwilling to comment on who that was‘. This would give us a lot more, but for some reason the Media seemingly lost interest and this is weird, because there is a larger stake in this game and it is ignored.
Who, What, When, Where, How, Why?
The fact that we saw: “A UAE official said on Tuesday that the oil tanker MT Riah is not owned by the UAE” implies that at one time it was, if not them, who was it sold to? If they never owned it, why was there a UAE reference? Then we look into history and when we have proper access, we could check every bill of lading that this ship had, as well as any insurance underwritten to this boat, was that investigated? What details does the Lloyds registry have on this boat?
There is a whole league of question that can lead to answers, yet the media is not looking, which is odd to say the least. When we consider that a bill of lading is a contract between you, the owner of the goods, and the carrier stating what goods you’re shipping, where the shipment is coming from, and where it’s headed. It also serves as a receipt issued by the carrier once your shipment is picked up. So if none of this exists, there is an implication that the M/T Riah was a spy ship of some sorts. It is less likely to be a smuggler vessel as they rely on some level of paperwork and bills of ladings are contracts that tend to be registered, even if the actual owner is not always a given (there are a few ways to circumvent certain papers).
The fact that the media has avoided all this to a larger degree implies that there is more, but it is hustled away from prying eyes. The question becomes if the boat is an Iranian asset that came in from the cold? Let’s not forget that we have not found the travel mechanics of Iranian drones and missiles, so investigating this ship as far as possible seems to be an essential first, even if it is out of our hands, someone sold that ship registry radar, radio and all other kinds of hardware.
That is even before you realise that radio systems and satellite navigational systems on boats are often rented (like Radio Holland) and as such those serial numbers could hand out more details, or in the other directions, which facilitators and service providers have done business with the M/T Riah? There is absolutely 0% that this was the case unless it was a governmental spy/smuggling operation and that implies that the M/T Riah has returned ‘home’, you see if it was someone else, the Iranian government would be shouting that fact from every roof in Tehran, something that obviously has not happened.
So we are left with the question in plain sight. Why is the media ignoring the M/T Riah and why are they giving us the smallest collection of basic facts, in several cases the article they gave us was less than 100 words, for a business unit seeking attention and clicks that is really too shallow.
Even the Washington examiner (6 days ago, gave us the bare minimum (at https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/missing-oil-tanker-likely-seized-by-iran-us-intelligence), they took a whole page to tell us nothing and basically rehashing the same facts three times over, to me this does not add up. It optionally is a case where the smuggling of missiles fired into Saudi Arabia have ended and Iran got their little toy back, in light of the headline: ‘Missing oil tanker likely seized by Iran: US intelligence‘, we merely see more questions and optionally we see more facilitation towards Iran at present. I would be happy to be 100% wrong in this instance, but the facts do not add up and the fact that the media stays asleep at the wheel is a mess of partial confirmation and larger lack of interest, especially in light of all the other over exposed points.
In a place where the pressure is coming to a boil, is this lacking exposure really the best way to go?