Coast guard announces seizure of explosives-packed freighter bound for Libya

Presenting an operation that culminated in the seizure of the Tanzania-flagged freighter “Andromeda” and its cargo of explosives, Greek coast guard officers on Wednesday said the ship had been a “moving bomb that could have had unforeseeable repercussions on people and the marine environment.”

A special operations squad seized the vessel and arrested the freighter’s eight-person crew in waters off Agios Nikolaos, Crete a few days earlier. The freighter, which was sailing from Turkey to Libya, was loaded with 29 crates of explosives and other materials that could be used to construct bombs used in terrorist attacks, such as detonators, ammonium nitrate and a special gel.

The crew, which included two Ukrainian nationals, five Indian nationals and one Albanian, gave conflicting accounts under questioning and the skipper admitted that he had been ordered by the ship’s owner to sail to the Libyan port of Misurata and not Djibouti, the destination listed in the ship’s itinerary. Coast guard officers also found no naval charts for the Djibouti and Oman areas, which were listed as the cargo’s destination, on the bridge.

The European Union has issued a directive that forbids the transportation and sale of arms and explosives to Libya.

The ship and ship’s cargo were confiscated and the ship taken to the Cretan port of Iraklio, where an inspection revealed 102 serious issues with its seaworthiness that placed the safety of the crew at risk.

The crew will be led before a Piraeus public prosecutor on Thursday.

The ship is owned by the company Andromeda Shipping, possibly representing Greek interests. Authorities are also investigating other trips recently carried out by the specific vessel, which appears to have also approached ports in Cyprus.