Drill Ship Captain Begged Turkish Warship to Change Course

Details of a radio exchange between the captain of the ENI-chartered drill ship Saipem 12000 and a Turkish warship in Cypriot waters have been released.

The exchange from Feb. 9 reportedly took place in Block 3 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which has seen Turkish warships stymie energy exploration by the Italian company.

In the Dogan News Agency transcript, the captain of Saipem 12000 panics, telling an approaching Turkish warship to change speed and course “otherwise we will sink together”.

The Turkish vessel replies that it cannot change course but then later complies.

Dogan also reports unidentified Turkish officials saying Greek Cypriots will not be allowed to conduct unilateral gas exploration in the region.

The official also claimed Nicosia had been left isolated and now understood energy exploration could only take place with cooperation from Turkish Cyprus and Ankara.

Thursday saw ENI confirm it was withdrawing the drill ship from the area to Morocco, but insisting its gas project remained alive.

Although the U.S. ambassador to Cyprus earlier this week confirmed Washington’s support for Nicosia’s right to exploit its EEZ, the blocking of the ENI gas project has led to a serious diplomatic standoff in the eastern Mediterranean.

It is thought Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will raise the issue on Friday at an informal EU leaders’ summit.


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