The Greek Coast Guard has attempted to inspect a Comoros-flagged vessel, suspected of smuggling Turkish weapons to Libya, according to the Greek City Times.
Turkey said the Greek Coast Guard fired on a ship in international waters, in the northern Aegean sea, marking another potential escalation between the two NATO members.
“The vessel did not emit a signal, prompting the Greek Coast Guard’s request for it to stop for boarding. The captain refused and sped off, prompting the Coast Guard to fire warning shots in the air, and not at the vessel,” a Greek shipping ministry official said.
In July, the EU’s Operation IRINI announced that it conducted an inspection of the MV VICTORY RORO off the coast of Libya. The ship was found to be transporting vehicles to Libya in breach of the UN arms embargo.
According to a statement by IRINI, the ship, which was flying the flag of Equatorial Guinea, has long been suspected of transferring military equipment to Libya. Under the name MV LUCCELLO, flying the flag of Comoros, the vessel was identified by the UN Panel of Experts on Libya as having delivered military vehicles to the country in early March 2022.
The statement added that prior to the inspection, the cargo ship had been located by a French Navy plane, assigned to IRINI, after crossing the Suez Canal, and entering the Mediterranean sea.
The Hellenic Navy frigate HS THEMISTOKLES monitored the ship during her route, before the frigate of the Italian Navy ITS GRECALE took over to conduct the inspection. Both warships are deployed under the operational control of IRINI.
During the inspection, the team identified dozens of vehicles designed or modified for military use, and thus assessed to be in violation of the UN arms embargo on Libya. In accordance with UNSCR 2292 (2016) and its mandate, Operation IRINI seized the vehicles, and is now diverting the ship to a European port for further proceedings.
The inspection of MV VICTORY RORO is the 24th performed by IRINI since its launch in March 2020, and was carried out in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2292 (2016) and subsequent renewals. These authorise the diversion of ships like this, and the seizure of transported arms and arms-related material.