On February 18th, 2020, a Twitter account broadcasting news from the Libyan National Army posted images of the port of Tripoli being bombed by General Haftar’s forces targeting an arms shipment from Turkey.
From this starting point, open source research can show:
- A possible violation of the embargo by Turkey, based on a number of indicators pointing to a possible aborted arms shipment
- The presence of a boat from Turkey at Tripoli Port.
- The use of a non-Turkish transporter to better hide the origin of goods.
- Doubts about the origin of the crew…
Was there an arms delivery at Tripoli Port?
Geolocation of video and images circulating online
Images relating to the bombing quickly circulated online, which can be geolocated to Tripoli port thanks to unique places like the blue warehouses (in orange), expressway curves, mosques (in light green), the sea front (light purple), and a port building(yellow).
A satellite picture of Tripoli Port published by the private satellite imagery company ISI Intelligence shows the affected boats and smoke in the port, confirming the attack, the date and the location.
Information on the alleged arms
On social networks, it is possible to find a post on Facebook dated February 18th, 2020 from the communication organ of the Libyan National Army, announcing the arrival of an arms shipment from Turkey and justifying the bombing of Tripoli port.
Vessels docked at this time
The vessel from Turkey, which was in port during the attack, can be quickly identified by looking at the arrivals at the port and their origins on MarineTraffic.
The vessel of interest here is called ANA (IMO : 7369118)…
It appears on the following pictures published on line at the time of the attack:
Official Turkish declarations
In the days following the incident, Turkish President Erdogan confirmed to media that two Turkish military officers had been killed in the Tripoli attack. Their names are revealed a few days later by a Turkish deputy in the opposition party:
An article on RFI states that these two officers were tasked with overseeing the arms delivery at Tripoli Port.
Despite the lack of images, at this stage in the investigative process there are a number of leads that point to the existence of an arm shipment violating the embargo.
The shipping company: from Turkey to Libya, through Albania
With the help of MarineTraffic, we can see that MV ANA left Albania on February 1st, 2020 to go to Mersin in Turkey for a 4-day stopover at the port from February 5th to 9th, before leaving again for Tripoli in Libya, arriving on February 15th, 2020.
A closer look at the previous photos of the ship in Tripoli shows that it has been repainted: the mention of Shega Line has been removed and repainted in blue, the Albanian flag has been completely repainted in red to camouflage the ship’s origin. One can imagine that this is why the boat stayed docked in Turkey for several days while the paint dried and the containers were loaded…
When consulting Equasis, it is nevertheless clear that the ANA is still registered as the property of the Albanian company Shega Trans SHA, a company specialising in logistical transport by road, air and sea since 2018 with the vessels ANA and OTTO.
Managed by an Albanian self-made man, Shega is using a picture of MV ANA on its Linkedin page. Its maritime shipping service offers shipping only between Ravenna and Durres and Ravenna and Shengjin.
Which crew and what future in Turkey?
It is interesting to note that on February 3rd, 2020, an ad was placed on Facebook by a Georgian recruitment agency specialising in staffing maritime crews, seeking to recruit additional crew members for the ANA ship of Azeri and Georgian nationality. The owner of the boat is presented as being Turkish.
A story in Albanian media appears to suggest that the Shega Trans crew left the boat in Mersin and was replaced by a Turkish crew at this time.
Docked at Haydarpasa port since March 11th (at the time of writing), it would not be surprising to see the boat getting a new name, new colours, a new flag and a new crew. The boat has not transmitted its GPS position since March 18th, at 04h46 in the morning.
On MarineTraffic map, we can see it docked at the port, and if you look closely you can see it appears on images from Sentinel Hub on the same date.
However on the 20/03,the boat is no longer visible on the satellite image, even though ANA’s GPS does not indicate any movement.
Interestingly, another ship appears to share ANA’s position on the 18/03: the Tanzanian-flagged MV Pray, a passenger boat type (IMO 7295666).
PRAY has no navigation history and does not appear in any database. However, on 19th March it set sail for Antalya. To be continued…