Thirty tons of pot go up in smoke

AFM Reefer ship fireSEPTEMBER 9, 2013 — A 2,108 dwt general cargo ship caught fire Friday off the coast of Malta after a cargo of 30 tons of cannabis caught fire, according to a Reuters report citing Italy's Guardia di Finanzia.

Photo: Armed Forces of Malta

The ship, the 1975-built Gold Star was flying the flag of Tanzania and is registered to a single-ship company with a Maduro, Marshall Islands address.

According to the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM), personnel working at the Operations Center of the Armed Forces of Malta were alerted to the fire by an emergency message being transmitted at sea.

The AFM immediately dispatched three of its maritime assets (an inshore patrol vessel P23, a fast interceptor and offshore patrol vessel P52) and an Alouette III helicopter to the operational area.

The nine people on board the ship were picked up by an Italian Guardia di Finanza vessel that was close by.

The coordination of the search and rescue operation was carried out by the AFM's Rescue Coordination Center in Luqa. Apart from AFM vessels , this operation saw the participation of the Maltese Civil Protection Department Vessel Garibaldi, Italian air and naval law enforcement assets as well as a number of civilian support vessels including the Fratelli Neri owned offshore tug/supply vessel Nos Taurus.

By noon Saturday, the AFM's on scene commander declared that the remaining flames onboard the Gold Star were extinguished and the vessel was secure. The cargo vessel was officially handed over to Italian authorities at 1:42 pm and was taken under tow to Sicily by Nos Taurus for further investigation by Italian authorities.


Photo: Armed Forces of Malta

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