Israeli Navy Uncovers Weaponry on Victoria Cargo Ship
(March 15, 2011)
On March 15, 2011, IDF Navy fighters intercepted the cargo vessel "Victoria" loaded with various weaponry. The vessel, flying under a Liberian flag, was intercepted some 200 miles west of Israel's coast. This incident was part of the Navy's routine activity to maintain security and prevent arms smuggling, in light of IDF security assessments. The force was met with no resistance from the crew on-board.
The vessel was brought by the Israeli Navy to the Ashdod port for further searches and detailed inspection of the cargo. The vessel was on its way from the Port of Mersin in Turkey to Alexandria in Egypt.
According to assessments, the various weaponry on-board the vessel was intended for the use of terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.
The IDF would like to note that Turkey is not tied to the incident in any way.
The operation was approved as necessary in accordance with government directives in light of the Chief of the General Staff's recommendations. Earlier this morning, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz updated the Minister of Defense, Mr. Ehud Barak, about the findings on-board the vessel.
The IDF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs alerted about the interception of the "Victoria" to the German authorities, due to the German ownership of the ship. In addition, the government of Liberia, whose flag it was flying under, was notified, as well as France, due to the French shipping company.
The operation was under the command of the IDF Navy Commander, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Marom, and the interception was under the command of the Navy Special Forces Commander. The vessel's crew and content will be transferred to an Israeli port for questioning and further inspection.
The IDF will continue its intelligence and operational activities in order to maintain Israel's security interests and prevent arms smuggling that will fuel the terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
Missile identification document in Persian bearing the Iranian governmental emblem found onboard the Victoria,
noting the name of the missile ("Nasser"), the missile system (C-704), and date of manufacture.
Over 50 Tons of Weapons Discovered
Preliminary list of weaponry and weaponry systems discovered and unloaded at Ashdod port hidden in the cargo of the Victoria:
Anti-Ship Missiles and Guidebooks in Persian Found
Among weapons found on the deck of the Victoria, Navy Commando 13 soldiers found C-704 anti-ship missiles equipped with radars and a range of 35 kilometers. "These are strategic weapons. If Hamas gets its hands on them they would seriously damage strategic infrastructure at sea and at shore," said Israel Navy Chief Brig. Gen. Rani Ben-Yehuda.
According to Brig. Gen. Ben Yehuda, these types of missiles are dangerous not just to Navy ships but also to civilian vessels usually arriving at the Ashdod Harbor. "Because the missiles can be programmed to work automatically, they pose a threat to any additional targets within their range. They are easier to control and mobilize than previous missiles," he explained.
According to IDF intelligence gathering, Hamas does not currently carry missiles of this type in the Gaza Strip. That said, The Hizbullah terrorist organization in Lebanon does have similar capabilities.
The Navy Chief added that guidebooks in Farsi were found on the ship along with other symbols of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, another indication that the Victoria was an Iranian attempt to shift the order of power in the Middle East.
Photos: IDF Spokesperson