French Port Authorities Ponder Mysterious Vessel

Wednesday, May 02, 2001
Authorities at the French port of Rouen said on Wednesday they have detained a mysterious vessel for almost a month because of doubts over its name and nationality.

The ship, which arrived on April 7 in Rouen under the name White Clipper and was flying a flag from Sao Tome and Principe, had been scheduled to load 7,000 tons of sugar for Senegal and Gambia. But the Sao Tome and Principe authorities did not recognize the vessel's license, said a port official.

White Clipper vessel did present itself under an illegal resister," he said.

The port of Rouen, citing the Lloyd's shipping register, said the 443 ft. (135-m) ship, first called Matveï Mouranov, was built in Gdansk in 1973 and used by the Azov Shipping Company until 2000.

The boat then became the property of the Rose Shipping Company Ltd, based in Sao Tome and Principe, and was renamed Conti Rose.

Earlier this year during a stop in Lisbon, Portuguese authorities cleared the "Conti Rose" to cast off under the condition it performed some repairs at its next port-of-call. But somewhere between Lisbon and Rouen, the ship changed its name to White Clipper.

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