Russian tanker in Scapa Flow would dishonour memory of Royal Oak – Carmichael writes to PM calling for sanctions

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today written to the Prime Minister calling for him to sanction and deny Russian-owned vessels access to UK ports following Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine. Mr Carmichael highlighted his previous exchange with the Prime Minister in Parliament, in which Boris Johnson indicated that new measures meant the government could sanction Russian-owned companies like Sovcomflot, one of the largest petroleum shipping companies in the world, and noted that while one Sovcomflot vessel (NS Challenger) has now departed from Sullom Voe terminal in Shetland, a second, the NS Champion, is due to arrive at Flotta terminal in Orkney on Tuesday. Currently such vessels operate freely and cannot legally be denied access to ports by local authorities.

Mr Carmichael highlighted the Northern Isles’ key role in fighting the Nazi regime in the Second World War, including the sinking of the Royal Navy flagship, the Royal Oak, with a loss of 835 men and boys. He warned that allowing open access to Sovcomflot would “dishonour the memory of the sacrifice that the crew of the Royal Oak made in their fight against fascism” and called on the Prime Minister to take action immediately.

In the letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Carmichael writes:

“Local people in the Northern Isles were pleased to hear you say that you would ‘immediately investigate what is happening with the Sovcomflot oil tanker’ and that ‘The result of the measures that the House passed the other day is that we can now target any entity—any company—that has any relation with the Russian state. We have that power.’

“It is imperative, therefore, that you should act without delay to ensure that Sovcomflot is sanctioned and denied access for their vessels to British ports. 

“Like right thinking people across the United Kingdom, the people of Orkney have been sickened by what we have seen on our television screens of the Russian attack on Ukraine.  We expect you, as our Prime Minister, to act to stop this continued trade that is earning money to fund the slaughter of Ukrainian citizens.  

“Scapa Flow was at the centre of the UK’s naval effort in two world wars in the twentieth century.  That remains a source of pride in our community to this day.  It is also the final resting place of many of the 835 men and boys who lost their lives on 14th October 1939 when their ship, HMS Royal Oak, was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. To allow Sovcomflot to operate without let or hindrance in Scapa Flow would be to dishonour the memory of the sacrifice that the crew of the Royal Oak made in their fight against fascism of the sort that is currently engaged in attacking the people of Ukraine.”

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