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Italian Forces Storm Ro-Ro After Reports of Threats by Armed Stowaways

Italian troops
Italian Special Forces searching the Galata Seaways

Published Jun 9, 2023 4:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

Italy’s Defense Minster is reporting that Italian Special Forces and the Coast Guard have regained control of a ro-ro, the Galata Seaways operated by DFDS Seaways, after reports that the crew had discovered stowaways, which the minister is referring to as “migrants,” and “illegal immigrants,” saying they threatened or possibly attempted to commandeer the ship. The 22-member crew is reported to be safe while the operation to search the vessel continued.

Late today, Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto wrote on Twitter, "The ship's hijackers have been captured. Everything ended well. My congratulations to the guys from the San Marco Battalion, the policemen and the financiers, who concluded a splendid operation in collaboration. Everyone for his part. Well done!"

Details on the situation are confused with different scenarios in the media as well as differing reports from the Italian Defense Ministry and the Turkish Transport Ministry.

 

 

The Galata Seaways (15,121 dwt) departed Yalova, Turkey on June 7 bound for Sete, France where it was scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning, June 10. The vessel, which is 732 feet in length, is registered in Turkey.

Different reports indicate that the crew of the vessel spotted between 15 and 20 stowaways on security cameras and began a lockdown on the vessel. At least four or five of the stowaways were believed to be carrying knives. Some reports said the crew was able to lock themselves into the engine room and other secure locations, while some are saying that once discovered, the stowaways threatened the crew and attempted to take control of the vessel. 

 

(File photo of Galata Seaways)

 

The captain of the Galata Seaways radioed the authorities in Turkey according to reports who relayed the information to France and Italy. Some reports said the stowaways attempted to storm the locked bridge of the vessel. The ship was reported to be about 90 miles south of Naples at this time. The decision was made to divert to Naples where the vessel was due to arrive around 17:00 local time.

Reports indicate the Guardia di Finanza patrol boat Sanna and Coast Guard vessel Bruno Gregoretti intercepted the ro-ro on the outskirts of Naples. Italian forces boarded the vessel from helicopters and were searching the ship. They reportedly secured the crew but according to some reports at least some of the stowaways barricaded themselves in areas of the ship.

The Italian Ministry said a search of the vessel is ongoing at this time. the AIS signal shows that the Galata Seaways is anchored in Naples Bay.