ST. PETERSBURG - A Russian ship’s insurance was canceled as the vessel traveled to Syria after British authorities said its cargo may be lethal and in violation of European Union sanctions, apparently forcing the vessel to turn back.
“We were made aware of allegations that the Alaed was carrying munitions destined for Syria,’’ Standard Steamship Owners Protection and Indemnity Association Ltd. said Tuesday. “We have already informed the ship owner that their insurance cover ceased automatically in view of the nature of the voyage.’’
The Alaed is owned by Femco, a shipping company based on the Far East island of Sakhalin, according to Russian registration documents. William Hague, the British foreign secretary, said the boat had reversed course after losing its insurance.
“I am pleased to report that the ship that was reportedly carrying arms to Syria has now turned back, apparently to Russia,’’ Hague said in London.
The vessel was in the Norwegian Sea and continuing on its voyage, a company official in Moscow who declined to be identified said earlier Tuesday.
The boat was loaded with Mi-25 helicopters and missiles in Kaliningrad and destined for the Syrian port of Tartus, the Daily Telegraph reported, citing unidentified British security officials who were alerted to the shipment by counterparts in the United States. Satellite data compiled by Bloomberg showed the Alaed off the northwestern coast of Scotland Tuesday.
“We are aware of a ship carrying a consignment of refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters heading to Syria,’’ the British Foreign Office said in a statement. “We are working closely with international partners to ensure that we are doing all we can to stop the Syrian regime’s ability to slaughter civilians being reinforced through assistance from other countries.’’
Without insurance, a vessel can continue traveling but would not be able to load or unload any cargo at any commercial port, said Alexei Bezborodov, director of Infranews, a Russian transport and logistics research group. Russia has a naval base near Tartus.