Iranian arms ship Ashdod 248.88.
(photo credit: )
An employee from the Cypriot commercial freight operator that rented a ship intercepted by the Israel Navy overnight Tuesday that was found to be carrying a massive quantity of Iranian arms told The Jerusalem Post of his surprise at discovering the ship's true cargo.
The Francop, owned by the German Dohle company, had been rented by the Cypriot United Feeding Services (UFS) shipping service for a voyage that would take the ship to Cyprus, Lebanon, and Syria.
The ship's crew and operator said they were unaware of the explosive cargo the containers held.
"Of course we are surprised," a source at the UFS chartering department told the Post on Wednesday. "We load thousands of containers - this is the first time something like this has happened."
"The crew and captain are not allowed to open the containers. They are informed of their content by the customs authority of the port in which they were loaded. The liability rests with the customs at the port," he said.
"This morning, the captain sent us an e-mail, informing us that the ship had been boarded," the UFS employee said. "He was not alarmed."
The navy's interception provided a valuable glimpse into how Teheran deceives unknowing commercial freight services to ensure that its Lebanese proxy Hizbullah is heavily armed.
The Francop set sail on Tuesday for Limassol, Cyprus. From there, the ship was scheduled to dock in Beirut, and then sail to Lattakiya, Syria.
From there, security sources believe the arms would have been trucked to Hizbullah in Lebanon.