Hoegh Transporter allowed to leave Mombasa

The Norwegian car carrier at the centre of an arms and drugs smuggling investigation has been allowed to leave Kenya. The Hoegh Transporter left Mombasa on Saturday after what its owner, Hoegh Autoliners, described as a “diplomatic intervention”. The ship had been under investigation for nearly a week.

Kenyan authorities had searched the ship and were preparing to charge the crew with illegal transport of weapons, but the United Nations secretary general’s office said the Hoegh Transporter was carrying UN weapons destined for Congo.

Suspected cocaine found in the tyres of army trucks bound for a peacekeeping mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congoc is now being reported as an an anti-humidity powder that’s put around tyres for long shipments. Around 30 weapons were discovered which were not on the ship’s manifest.

The Norwegian owner said in a statement: “It is Hoegh Autoliner’s policy not to load weapons on vessels engaged in civilian traffic. Had we been aware of the presence of guns inside this consignment of vehicles shipped by United Nations, the cargo would have been neither booked, nor loaded. The fact that the vehicles contained guns, which were loaded without our knowledge, caused a breach of Kenyan laws and our own strict policies. It is regrettable that a grave mistake on the part of the shipper has caused delays for other customers, the crew and ship.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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