Tunisian officials have detained a tanker amid claims it concealed Russian military cargo. Reports suggest that Ural stopped in the Tunisian port of Sfax for repairs after being caught in a storm. The ship was en route from Novorossiysk Russia to Douala Cameroon.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has disputed the claims saying there was nothing military on board. But Tunisian media and sources, say the cargo consists of military trucks and armoured vehicles, bulldozers, ambulances, tank trucks, electric generators, military uniforms and radio and satellite communication equipment. Sources at the port say the majority of the cargo wasn’t properly documented, and some was omitted from all lists.
The cargo wasn’t properly documented, part of it wasn’t documented at all.
The transit of the ship has also led to questions of intentional concealment. URAL crossed most part of Ionian sea at a reduced speed, and then made a sharp turn, heading south to the shores of North Africa, towards a Libyan port. She then made another sharp turn west, in the direction of Tripoli. Sources are speculating that the ship needed mechanical assistance but couldn’t call on a European port because of tight inspection regulations. After heading towards Libya the same was decided about the officials at the port there, forcing the ship to make another sharp turn to head towards Tunisia. On Feb 15 URAL arrived at Sfax. Later she moved into the port and was moored.
The Russian Embassy has rejected the reports by Maritime Bulletin as being incorrect.
As of Feb 25th the ship was still in Sfax.
Ro-ro cargo ship URAL, IMO 7725386, GT 4994, built 1980, flag Panama, manager AKDENIZ RORO DENIZ TASIMA, Mersin, Turkey.