Owners of arms-carrying ship stopped off Crete deny wrongdoing

Cargo ship Andromeda (IMO 7614666) was reported stopped by the Greek Coastguard on January 7th, leading to the discovery of 29 containers on board that were full of explosives and detonators.

A representative of Andromeda Shipmanagement SA, which owns the vessel, said on January 11th that there was nothing illegal about the shipment. The vessel had paused off Crete en route to Libya, but captain Theodoros Rellos said that the ship should not have been seized and that the eight crew should not have been taken into custody and then arraigned before a Piraeus court.

The local authorities claimed that sea safety laws had been breached and that the ship had dozens of problems.

The skipper said that he had been ordered by the ship’s owner to sail to the Libyan port of Misurata, rather than Djibouti, which was the destination listed in the ship’s itinerary.

Asked why the freighter had been sailing from port to port in the last two months, laden with 410 tons of explosives, Captain Rellos claimed that the ship had been chartered by two Turkish companies that owned the merchandise, but defaulted on their obligation to pay. Since the charterers did not pay the toll for the Suez Canal the ship could not continue to Djibouti. Because of the nature of the cargo, she headed from anchorage to anchorage, Captain Rellos said.

Regarding claims by Andromeda’s captain that he had been asked to take the cargo to Libya, Rellos said that this had been part of an effort to find reliable storage for the cargo, which was offered by Misurata port in Libya, but the company had opted not to go. Asked about the 102 safety concerns relating to the ship’s seaworthiness cited by the Greek Coast Guard inspectors, Rellos said the ship was carrying out its last trip before it was to be dismantled in Turkey.

1979-built, Tanzania-flagged, 1,590 gt Andromeda is owned and managed by Andromeda Shipmanagement SA of Athens, Greece. It is entered with Hydor on behalf of Coasters Marine Corp.