Monfalcone changed rules on the transit of weapons
As opposed to what happened so far, the Friuli Coast Guards allowed a ship carrying war material (to be delivered in Arabia) to moor in the port, despite the operators’ and dockers’ discontent
The general cargo unit Norderney, flying the Antigua flag and belonging to the German shipowner MLB Shipping, recently sailed from Monfalcone carrying rocket launchers and missiles to be delivered to the Ministry of Interior of Saudi Arabia.
The service was operated by Bahari Bolloré Logistics, a partnership between the French group and the Saudi state-controlled group Bahri.
The calla at the Italian port, after having loaded weapons in Olvia (Ukraine) to be unloaded in Jeddah, led to controversies, also in light of what recently happened in Genoa, where dockers and activists prevented a cargo for potential war use to be delivered in Arabia from being loaded on the Bahri Yanbu unit. The protest was organized by the trade union Filt Cgil, which is determined to oppose the flexible interpretation of international treaties providing for careful inspections on Italy’s part of armaments in transit to countries involved in unfair wars, such as Arabia in Yemen.
According to the Monfalcone Coast Guards, both shipowner and agency (Marlines) informed safety bodies about the arrival of the ship Norderney and about its cargo, assuring that loading/unloading operations would have regarded only round bars, and that containers transporting weapons and munitions would not have been handled.
Therefore, despite its order prohibiting ‘commercial operations’ on Class 1 cargoes (i.e. explosives) in the port of Monfacone, the Coast Guards accepted.
However, since in the past several operators were not allowed to transit in the port, two shipping agents revealed to Ship2Shore that they are determined to enforce this precedent.
“In compliance with all regulations, containers were merely in transit, therefore we granted our authorization”, CP Virginia Buzzoni’s second-in-command explained.
Moreover, “during similar operations carried out in ports that do not apply the same restrictions in force in Monfalcone, the transit of this type of cargos was allowed provided that we guaranteed a 24h armed security service and the presence of firemen”, one of the agents explained.
As concerns safety and security, Buzzoni assured that the Coast Guards took all the measures within its responsibility, referring all the rest to the Prefecture.
The latter only ordered the Border and Customs Police to carry out inspection of the cargo.
Although they did not find any non-compliances, they did not inform the workers, who did not know that their ship was transporting 4 containers full of explosives (‘stowed on deck’ according to Buzzoni, and also below deck according to the stowage plan).
“The operations carried out on the ship Norderney are dangerous for workers’ safety, therefore they cannot be carried out without informing them. However, we will require the institutions to provide information also about the cargo and its consignee because weapons cannot transit in Italian ports, especially since the same ports are closed to the victims of those weapons”, declared Filt Cgil Regional Secretary Valentino Lorelli referring to the possible infringement of the international treaties by which Italy is bound.
“We sympathize with port workers in Monfalcone, also in light of the danger they were exposed to while handling goods without knowing about the cargoes full of weapons and explosives”, Filt Cgil national secretary Natale Colombo declared, adding that “as in Genoa last week, also in Molfalcone we recorded a serious breach of international treaties in terms of peace and safety measures.
Allowing the transit of weapons is a material breach of international treaties because Italian ports must not carry out similar operations, while they should be open for the victims of those weapons”.