A team of Navy SEALs boarded and took control of an oil tanker carrying Libyan oil, southeast of Cyprus, at the request of the Libyan and Cypriot governments, the Defense Department said in a statement Monday.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said the SEALs boarded the Morning Glory on Sunday night local time in international waters; the vessel was seized earlier this month by three armed Libyans.
"The SEAL team embarked and operated from the guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt," Kirby said in the statement.
NPR's Leila Fadel reported on the operation for our Newscast unit. She said:
"Anti-government rebels who control three vital ports in the east had sold and loaded the crude oil onto the tanker bypassing the central government's authority. The rebel group wants their share of Libya's oil wealth and more autonomy in the east. The move embarrassed an already weak central government."
No one was hurt in the operation, which was approved by President Obama, the Pentagon statement said. The tanker was headed back to a Libyan port to return the oil.
The New York Times reports that the Morning Glory was sailing under a North Korean flag, but that country disavowed any role in the operation. The newspaper added:
"News reports have said it was operated by a company based in Alexandria, Egypt, and that after leaving Libyan waters it appeared to have sailed the Mediterranean in search of a buyer for its oil."