A recent CNN article broke news that a Russian ship, Matros Pozynich (Matros), that was loaded with stolen Ukrainian grain was turned away from at least one Mediterranean port and then sailed to the Syrian port of Latakia.
The ship engaged in dark activities prior to arriving in Syria: “On April 27, the ship weighed anchor off the coast of Crimea, and turned off its transponder. The next day it was seen at the port of Sevastopol, the main port in Crimea, according to photographs and satellite images,” said CNN.
The revelations about Matros were justifiably seen as major news around the world, but Windward’s Maritime AI platform had highlighted Matros Pozynich’ suspicious behavior long before these recent stories, due to our predictive analytics and third-party screening capabilities.
Let’s take a closer look at details about Matros gleaned from Windward’s AI platform. The Matros is a 169-meter bulk carrier operating under the Russian flag from February 2022. Following a recent flag change from the Marshall Islands to Russia, the vessel also changed ownership. Until April 2022, Matros was owned by a Greek company. On April 26, it changed its registered owner to the Russian company Crane Marine Contractor.
While Crane Marine Contractors is not under any international sanctions, Windward’s third-party screening capabilities, powered by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, reveal that it is owned by a sanctioned Russian entity.
Matros’ previous beneficial owner traded it away during this round of illicit activities, likely to obscure ownership. That previous beneficial owner happens to own another vessel that recently visited Saint Petersburg for the first time. That vessel is currently traveling towards Port Said, where the Matros Pozynich previously tried to sell Ukrainian grain before being turned away.
The Matros has been flagged as high-risk in Windward’s Maritime AI platform since November 2021.
As we can see via its vessel profile, the illicit activities that were published are just the tip of the iceberg. According to Windward’s data, Russia has been using Matros to conduct illicit activities across multiple territories, including Iran and Syria.
The behavioral trends of this vessel are a good example for why a holistic risk view is critical. With Windward’s domain expertise and vast historical data, we can clearly state that any type of smuggling – whether drugs, humans or grains – follows the same behavioral patterns of ownership and identity changes. The information revealed in these patterns is relevant to compliance-focused businesses and law enforcement/intelligence units.
Utilizing Windward’s Maritime AI platform, we see the comprehensive capabilities of predictive risk. With just the name of a vessel, Windward can quickly find its ownership and connections to other non-maritime entities and sister vessels that may shed light on future illicit activities – from a single platform. We are able to send predictive risk alerts and comprehensive maritime domain awareness across multiple verticals, but our technology goes even deeper. It can also conduct in-depth investigations, pulling data from multiple sources, including behavioral patterns, company information/network analysis, and counterparty due diligence.
The maritime ecosystem is evolving quickly, particularly following Russia’s invasion. Predictive analytics are crucial for staying ahead of the curve and knowing what is likely to happen.