Heading towards the Strait of Malacca the very large crude carrier (VLCC) Pacific Bravo went dark on June 5th, shutting off it’s transponder. On July 18th the transponder for the VLCC Latin Venture was activated off Port Dickson in Malaysia, located in the Strait of Malacca. Roughly 940 miles from the previous known location of the Pacific Bravo.

Curiously, both Pacific Bravo and Latin Venture have broadcast the same unique ID number IMO9206035, which is issued by the International Maritime Organization. IMO numbers are tied to the ships they are issued to like VIN numbers. This is indicative that both ships are one in the same.

Earlier a U.S. government official had warned ports in Asia not allow the ship to dock since it was in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran. It is estimated the ship could contain roughly 2 million barrels of oil, worth approximately $120 million if full. Ship tracking data from the company Refinitiv showed that all containers on the ship were full when it was identifying as Pacific Bravo. When the ship came alive again as Latin Venture, it was empty. A statement from the Marine Department Malaysia said the Latin Venture entered Port Dickson on June 29th for a crew change and departed on July 18. The statement gave no indication that the cargo was discharged.

The ship is owned by Kunlun Holdings and is based out of Shanghai.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman responded to a request from Reuters saying “The global community, including China, is legally engaged in normal co-operation with Iran within the framework of international law, which deserves to be respected and protected.”

Reuters noted the origin of the oil could not be ascertained.

Source: Reuters Image: VCG VIA Getty Images