MSC Containership Held Offshore After Belgium Receives Bomb Threat 

bomb threat
MSC Lorena was ordered to reverse course shortly before it docked in Antwerp (Belgian TV)

Published Dec 22, 2022 11:44 AM by The Maritime Executive

An MSC containership is being held offshore while the Belgian authorities investigate a bomb threat made against the vessel shortly before it arrived at the Port of Antwerp on December 22. The Belgian authorities said they had decided to return the ship to the anchorage as a precaution until an investigation can be completed.

Belgian media identified the ship as the MSC Lorena, a 59,587 dwt containership. In TV reports, the 902-foot containership can be seen at anchor offshore. Built in 2006, the vessel has a capacity of 4,870 TEU. Her AIS data shows she was inbound to Antwerp after a route calling at African ports including: Lome, Togo, Lagos, Nigeria; Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire; and finally Dakar, Senegal, from which she departed on December 16.

The vessel had completed most of the transit along the River Scheldt reaching a point just west of Antwerp near the town of Rilland around 02:00 overnight night. The police then ordered the vessel to reverse course and proceed to the anchorage.

According to the local news reports, the Belgian Federal Police received a telephone call telling them that the vessel would “explode” shortly after it docked in Antwerp. The Maritime Police were alerted as were the Antwerp port authorities and the police are also involving the Belgian unit that investigates terrorist threats. 

The police are currently investigating the telephone call trying to determine where it came from. They were unable to supply any additional information about the call or the nature of the cargo in the containers aboard the ship. The decision to place the ship offshore was made so that it would not interfere with other vessel traffic for Antwerp.

AIS data shows that the vessel remains at anchor offshore. The police said they would release the vessel after they have completed the investigation.