Greek coast guards fire at Turkish cargo ship in Aegean

The Greek coast guard fired bullets at a Turkey-flagged freighter in the Aegean Sea on July 3 after it refused to obey calls from the Greek authorities to stop at a Greek port, the captain of the ship has said.

Haluk Sami Kalkavan, the captain of the ship, M/V ACT, told private broadcaster CNN Türk in a phone call that Greek coast guard boats fired shots on the ship around three miles off the island of Rhodes.

According to Deniz News Agency, the 88-meter freighter was heading to the Gulf of İzmit from the southern port of İskenderun.

Kalkavan said the Greek coast guard instructed him to approach the Rhodes port in international waters but he refused to obey the call and briefed the Turkish side 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, he added, noting that there were 16 bullet holes in the ship.

He also said the freighter was now in Turkish waters bound for Marmaris and was not at risk of taking on water. It later docked at Marmaris port.

The Turkish Armed Forces said in a statement that one assault boat and two coast guard boats immediately dispatched to scene after Greek coastguards fired at cargo ship.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry condemned the move, stating that the act that “disregarded the human life” had no explanation by any means.

“There is no justification … for firing on an unarmed commercial ship carrying freight between two Turkish ports,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “Our sole consolation is that nobody was killed or injured as a result of the incident.”

An official from the Greek shipping ministry confirmed that the coast guard tried to inspect the ship’s cargo, adding that the vessel did not cooperate and then moved back to Turkish waters. The official did not comment on whether the coast guard opened fire, Reuters reported.

The Greek coast guard declined to comment.