Greek coast guard officers have impounded a cargo vessel that had been en route to Libya with tons of arms and explosives after intercepting it off the Cretan port of Iraklio, officials said on Wednesday.
The Tanzania-flagged Andromeda had been heading from Turkey to Libya when it was stopped on Sunday, officers said. It had been stacked with 29 containers full of explosives and detonators.
The materials on board included a large quantity of the explosive agent ammonium nitrate and 11 empty liquefied petroleum gas tanks.
According to the ship’s bill of lading, the cargo had been loaded in the Turkish ports of Mersin and Iskenderun and had been destined for Djibouti and Oman.
But, according to Hellenic Coast Guard sources, the captain claimed to have been instructed by the ship’s owner to take the cargo to the Libyan city of Misrata.
The crew, comprising two Ukrainian nationals, five Indians and one Albanian, were detained and are to appear before a prosecutor on Thursday.
Coast guard officials underlined the significance of the interception.
“The coast guard neutralized a moving time bomb that could have had unpredictable consequences both for people and for the marine environment,” rear admiral Yiannis Argyriou, who heads the coast guard’s security and policing department, told reporters.
The materials could have been destined for a range of purposes from quarrying to bomb making, he said.
European Union and United Nations embargoes have prohibited the supply of arms to Libya since 2011.