The USS Elrod has taken over escort duties from the USS Stout for the hijacked oil tanker Morning Glory, the Defense Department said Friday.
Army Col. Steven Warren said the Elrod assumed escort duties Wednesday, two days after a team of U.S. Navy SEALS seized control of the commercial tanker from three armed Libyan hijackers.
The escort change was for administrative reasons: The Stout is assigned to the U.S. European Command area, and the Elrod is assigned to U.S. Africa Command, Warren said.
About 25 members of the Stout's crew who had been aboard the Morning Glory to provide security, navigation and communications assistance have been replaced by about 34 sailors from the Elrod, according to Warren. The Elrod and Morning Glory are expected to reach international waters just outside Libya this weekend, where the Morning Glory will be turned over to Libyan authorities, Warren said.
The Morning Glory, hijacked from the port of As-Sidra, is carrying oil owned by the Libyan government's National Oil Company. Libya and Cyprus had requested assistance from the U.S. government in regaining control of the ship. The SEALS embarked from the USS Roosevelt, which is deployed in the Mediterranean as part of the George H.W. Bush carrier strike group.
No one was hurt in the SEAL operation, Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a news release earlier this week.