When a disavowed oil tanker sailed into the port of Sidra and started raising eyebrows last night, the Libyan and Cypriot governments asked for an American intervention. And the Americans called in the US Navy SEALs.
The ship, called Morning Glory, was commandeered earlier this month by three armed members of the eastern Libyan militia, run by an individual named Ibrahim Jathran.
Jathran fancies himself something of a "Robin Hood" and has been organizing a blockade of Libyan ports in hopes of securing more independence from the government and a bigger slice of oil revenue. The eastern region he represents contains the majority of Libya's oil reserves.
Though Morning Glory was sailing under a North Korean flag, the Korean government has denied any affiliation with the vessel.
When it showed up in Sidra, the fragile "transitional" government in Tripoli reached out to the United States for assistance in regaining control of the ship and its cargo— an estimated 35,000 tons of crude oil and valued at almost $34 million.
Controlling oil revenue is a major cause of unrest in Libya right now. The New York Times reports that the loss of this tanker shook up their government so severely it was enough for their Parliament to oust their prime minister without picking a replacement.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby confirmed that President Obama authorized American military action around 10PM last night, and a Navy SEAL team from Special Operations Command Europe was quickly dispatched to retake the ship.
The raid was coordinated from the guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt, which launched the SEALs and provided helicopter air support.
Once Morning Glory was under American control, sailors from the USS Stout boarded the vessel and will supervise its return to the Libyan government.
The US government reports that no one was hurt in the raid.
The Financial Mirror of Cyprus says that Cyprian authorities are questioning three people who were allegedly lining up to buy the stolen oil.
Image: US Navy Official Imagery/Flickr