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[News] A Dutch ship caught in the act of transporting weapons to Libya

(B2) The freighter MV Meerdijk, flying the Dutch flag, was caught in the act of violating the arms embargo on Libya.

The Mv Meerdijk transporting in full view of all armored vehicles (Photo: EUNAVFOR Med Irini)

A successful inspection of European seafarers

The information was officially confirmed by the EU maritime operation, EUNAVFOR Med Irini, in a communicated, published on Wednesday (November 9). The inspection carried out on October 11 on the vessel off the coast of Libya revealed " dozens of vehicles modified for military use ". The material was seized and the vessel diverted to " a European port The European operation did not want to give any further details (1).

(Photo: EUNAVFOR Med Irini)

An inspection carried out in full cooperation

The inspection was carried out by Greek sailors from the flagship of the operation, FS Aegean. She was operated on without opposition. " The owners and managers fully cooperated with the inspection by the Eunavfor MED Irini operation and gave their full support to their investigations ” assures a manager of the company that owns the ship. On the operation side, however, it is confirmed that the Netherlands, as the flag state of the vessel, gave " without delay their consent to the inspection.

Emirati-made vehicles

This inspection has indeed made it possible to locate vehicles for military use, apparently of the type of those manufactured by the Emirati manufacturer. Apparently armored 4x4 vehicles of the BATT UMG type from the American-Emirati manufacturer TAG (The Armored Group). These vehicles are unarmed, but they can very easily be equipped with grenade launchers or even machine guns.

On behalf of the Emirates

According to the maritime information in our possession, the ship came from Al Hamriyah in the United Arab Emirates. After crossing the Suez Canal, it was heading towards Libya. More exactly the East of Libya. The Emirates supporting the Haftar clan.

Diverted to Marseilles

Le MV Meerdijk — which belongs to the Dutch company Vertom and has Groninghen as its home port — was diverted to the port of Marseilles (place designated in the operation plan as a port of diversion). He was immobilized for five days (between October 16 and 22), before being authorized to leave, to continue his journey and his activities. He thus arrived in Poti, Georgia on October 30.

The material seized

The equipment on board was seized and unloaded at the port, after inspection by experts from the United Nations Sanctions Committee. " No charges have been brought against the ship's crew, nor against the owner and managers “, we assure the side of the owner who pleads good faith. Contacted by B2, “ owner and managers ” from MV Meerdijk assured to take "very seriously their responsibilities ", in accordance with " all » the applicable laws and to all " punishments. " Before entering into cargo operations, the owner and managers always endeavor to ensure that all necessary permits and documents have been issued by the relevant authorities »

Precedents

This is the second seizure of its kind in less than three months and the third since the start of the operation. In September 2020, a Norwegian tanker carrying fuel for military use was seized (read: A ship suspected of violating the embargo to Libya intercepted by Operation Irini).

The case of the MV Victory Roro

On July 18, a ship flying the flag of Equatorial Guinea, the MV Victory Roro, was also boarded and diverted to a European port. The inspection carried out by the Italian sailors had made it possible to discover dozens of vehicles designed or modified for military purposes intended for Libya. Not surprisingly for specialists in arms trafficking to Libya.

A subscriber to embargo violation

« For a long time [he has been] suspected of transferring military equipment to Libya says EUNAVFOR Med Irini. Under the name of MV Luccello, flying the flag of the Comoros, the ship had thus been identified by the UN group of experts on Libya as having delivered military vehicles in early March 2022.

... tracked

He was therefore tracked by the European military. He had thus first been located by a French navy plane, assigned to Operation IRINI, " after crossing the Suez Canal and entering the Mediterranean Sea ". At sea, the Hellenic frigate HS Themitokles had watched the ship from a distance during its journey before the Italian frigate ITS Grecale take over to carry out the inspection.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Documents:

  1. The day before, on October 10, Turkey had refused a similar inspection for one of the ships flying its flag, the MV Matilde A.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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