The Israel Navy arrested a stowaway aboard a Turkish merchant ship on Sunday after the man attempted to set the vessel ablaze outside Haifa Port.
The incident onboard the MSC Canberra, which was anchored 9 km. off the coast of Haifa, began around 3 a.m., when the port administration received a call that an unknown individual had begun to break items on board and tried to set fire to parts of the ship.
The crew, following emergency procedures, locked themselves inside the command bridge and waited for troops to arrive.
The navy sent drones to gather information and monitor the situation and dispatched troops from the elite Shayetet 13 commando unit to search the ship as well did local Israel Police in the area, in coordination with the ship’s crew.
“The incident is under control,” the IDF said in a statement on Sunday morning.
Several hours after the incident began, the military said that troops took control of the ship and arrested the stowaway – a Turkish citizen – after combing the vessel in coordination with the ship’s captain, and with the help of police.
The man was transferred to police for interrogation and the Turkish consul in Israel is expected to meet with him.
While further details of the incident were barred from publication, it is believed to be criminal.
The MSC Canberra had sailed from the Turkish port of Mersin under a Panamanian flag on Friday and was on its way to enter Haifa Port before making its way to Ashdod Port.
Satellite imagery showed that it had been anchored off Haifa Port since Saturday afternoon.
Israel is highly dependent on the sea, with more than 90% of Israel’s imports arriving from by sea. While the country’s navy is relatively small compared to other IDF corps, it has a significant amount of territory to protect since the expansion of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from 40 nautical miles to 150 nautical miles from shore years ago.
The navy is also tasked with securing the natural gas drilling rigs that are in Israel’s EEZ and shipping lanes, clear targets for enemies on Israel’s northern border. The IDF has said it believes that Hezbollah has long-range missiles that can hit the rigs, which supply a large amount of the electricity consumed in Israel.
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