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Video: Greek Troops Board Tanker, Arresting Captain on “Abduction” Charges

Greek special forces
Special Missions forces went aboard to arrest the captain and release three people being held aboard the vessel (Hellas Coast Guard video)

Published Feb 12, 2024 3:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

A Special Missions Unit of the Greek military boarded a product tanker on Saturday arresting the vessel’s captain and releasing three inspectors who reportedly were aboard the ship against their will. It is the latest in a series of developments for a vessel that ran afoul of regulations in September 2023 being detained in Germany for 83 days with an amazing 42 deficiencies identified.

The Hellenic Coast Guard reports on Saturday, February 10, that the vessel, a 46,000 dwt product tanker identified by the media as the Arina 1 registered in Palau, was ordered to divert from its course into the anchorage at Chios. There, the Special Missions Unit boarded the vessel and in a video released by the  Coast Guard with their automatic rifles drawn began searching the ship.

The captain and chief engineer along with the three individuals who told authorities they were being detained against their will were taken ashore. After questioning, the captain was arrested on charges of abduction of a Filipino captain and engineer and another Greek engineer, who were aboard as inspectors for a buyer. The three reported that the captain of the tanker had signed them on as an oiler and cleaner to make up his crew complement and then sailed to escape legal detention and a ParisMoU ban on calling at European ports.

 

 

Built in 2002, the product tanker has been under the management of a Dubai-based manager since 2021 and registered in Palau. In September 2023, during a port state inspection, the vessel was detained. The causes included inadequate auxiliary engines, a lifeboat that was listed as not ready for use, problems with the fuel change-over procedure that could lead to MARPOL violations, as well as maintenance and training issues. Non-detention items ranged from inoperative alarm systems to corrosion, safety, maintenance, and other issues as well as wage issues for the crew. 

After a staggering 83 days, the vessel was released with an agreement that it would proceed to Dubai for repairs. Instead, it appears to have gone to Turkey, at which point in January 2024 the Paris MoU issued a permanent ban for failure to complete the agreed repairs. 

The Greek news outlet Zougla reports that the owners had agreed to the sale of the vessel to Greek interests. The ship went to Turkey, where they reported the sale and handover was to be completed. The buyer sent the three individuals to inspect the vessel, but before the handover could be completed, the vessel was arrested by a third party for $1 million in debt.

The captain of the tanker is reported to have told the people aboard he was moving the vessel to a different anchorage in Izmir, but instead took the vessel to sea keeping the three inspectors aboard to meet the crewing requirements. Some reports said they were locked into their cabins, while others said they were just detained aboard the ship. The vessel was planning to sail to Egypt.

The Greek engineer who was aboard as an inspector contacted the Operations Center of the Ministry of Shipping in Greece. While the vessel was approximately four nautical miles west of Chios on Saturday a patrol boat from the Hellenic Coast Guard intercepted it and ordered it to sail into the anchorage.

In addition to arresting the captain, reports are that the Greek authorities are detaining the tanker. The prosecutor’s office is investigating.