A Greek Coast Guard opened fire at a Turkish cargo ship in the south Aegean Sea on Monday, Turkish media report. They quote the captain of M/V ACT, a Turkish-flagged freighter ship transporting iron steel between two ports in Turkey.
Citing CNN Turk and the captain of the ship Sami Kalkavan, Yeni Safark writes: “The coast guard wanted the immediate withdrawal of the ship from the Port of Rhodes. We did not accept it, they wanted to do a control check, but we did not accept this either. They said they would shoot if we didn’t stop, and they did as they said.”
“This is a route we have traveled through before. The bullets struck the freighter. The crew survived a great danger,” he added.
Citing Deniz News Agency, CNN Turk notes that the captain said there were 16 holes on the ship caused by the bullets.
The Cargo had loaded iron at the port of Iskenderum by Adana in South-West Turkey and was sailing to Izmir.
Kalkavan said the Greek coast guard instructed him to approach the port of Rhodes port in international waters but he refused to obey the call and briefed the Turkish authorities of of the situation.
“The Greek coast guard immediately demanded the ship to anchor off the Port of Rhodes while we were passing around the island. They said they would check the ship but we did not accept that. They then said they would shoot if we didn’t stop and they did what they said. We have escaped a great danger,” Kalkavan said.
The coast guard then fired shots in the direction of the ship as it was heading to Turkish territorial waters, Kalkavan said adding that there were 16 bullet holes in the ship.
He also said the Turkish cargo ship was now in Turkish waters bound for Marmaris and was not at risk of taking on water.
Private broadcaster NTV reported that two Turkish coast guard boats had arrived at the scene and Turkish foreign ministry officials were in contact with the related institutions over the incident.
Based on the language used by the Turkish media and the captain’s claims “Rhodes in international waters” and “the Greek Coast Guard was in international waters,” KTG suspects that the Turkish cargo ship was most probably in Greek territorial waters without having submitted a passage plan. Therefore, a control was legitimate.
Ankara has been vehemently challenging the Greek territorial waters and sovereignty rights in the Eastern Aegean Sea.
The question is whether cargo M/V ACT did what it did on purpose to have Turkey reiterates its claims in the Aegean and provoke one of those diplomatic incidents the Turks love.
The Greek coast Guard has briefed the Turkish authorities on the incident.