Turkish officials have pressured the crew of the German Navy frigate FGS Hamburg to abort a vessel inspection in the Mediterranean Sea as part of an international arms embargo mission, the German Navy has confirmed.
According to the service, the frigate’s boarding team began the inspection of Turkish-flagged container ship ROSELINA-A at around 15:30 local time on November 22. The boarding team spent several hours on board before Turkey protested the inspection, which resulted in the boarding team breaking off the procedure.
It is unclear how many hours the team spent on the container ship, but the German Navy said the soldiers returned to the frigate in the morning hours of November 23.
The attempted inspection was undertaken as part of operation Irini, an EU-led mission designed to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya. Operation Irini assets also help monitor and gather information on illicit exports from Libya of petroleum, crude oil and refined petroleum products.
At the time of the boarding, Misrata-bound ROSELINA-A was in international waters south of the Morea Peninsula, north of the port of Benghazi. Turkish media reports slammed the engagements as “unlawful” and in “violation of the UN Convention on the High Seas.”
The boarding team did not find any prohibited goods during the time it had to inspect the ship, according to Germany’s dpa. The decision to heed to Turkey’s request reportedly came from operation Irini headquarters in Rome, Italy.
According to a statement from operation Irini headquarters, the vessel was boarded after the flag state did not respond to an initial request for consent for the boarding. “When the flag state made it clear that it denied the permission to inspect the vessel, operation Irini suspended the activities during which no evidence of illicit material was found on board and the vessel was cleared to pursue its route,” the operation Irini statement said.