The burnt out wreck of Moby Pirnce, where the collision impact can be seen in the bow.
|Location||Camp Darby, Italy|
|Description||A ferry catastrophe during a military smuggling operation|
The Moby Prince disaster was a major naval accident resulting in 140 deaths. It occurred in the late evening of Wednesday 10 April 1991, in the harbor of the Italian town of Livorno. What actually happened still is very much in the dark, although many things point to a military cover-up.
The official story is that MV Moby Prince, a ferry owned by NAVARMA Lines, collided with the oil tanker Agip Abruzzo, sparking an extensive fire that ravaged the ship. The only survivor of the crew and passengers of the ferry was a young ship's boy, Alessio Bertrand from Naples. The other 140 on board were killed by the massive fire or toxic fumes.
Major military activity and weapons transfers
Seven US and other naval vessels were present in the vicinity of the disaster that evening. At the time of the collision, radio recordings and verbal accounts clearly show that unregistered ships were present, and transfers from cargo ships bearing munitions were alleged, but their real identity and activities are currently unknown.
American military ships frequently visited the harbor, as the major US/NATO logistics base Camp Darby is nearby. The presence of covert military ships was not unusual; neither was the use of fake names when ships were used in secret military activities.
On board the ferry, traces of detonating fuse to pentrite and the military explosive T4-Rdx, of the same type as that trafficked by the smuggling kingpin Monzer Al Kassar, were identified by the expert reports ordered by the Public Prosecutor's Office of Livorno. And in the same port of Livorno there was the presence - before, during and after the disaster - of the flagship of Shifco, the flotilla of Al Kassar's vessels in some of his armament and explosive transports.
The judicial inquest after the Moby Prince incident ended without a convincing reconstruction of the facts and without real perpetrators: some light convictions were given for minor crimes. After that, silence fell over the case.
Nothing has been clarified about the mysterious presence of several US military ships, nothing about the operations they were conducting, nor about the shadow noise transmitter that had disturbed communications and radars, nothing about the total ineffectiveness of the rescue. Not even on the many malicious actions - albeit well identified by the investigation - which preceded the disaster, nor finally on the many omissions and tampering that occurred later, during the investigation.
The expert report on the ferry is clear, regarding Pentrite and T4-Rdx: «The residues of the seven explosives found in the bow thruster room could come either from pure explosives present in the same container or from different compositions produced for other purposes. Considering the high probability that five of them (Ng, Egdn, An, Tnt, Dnt) come from a commercial explosive for civil use, while the other two (Petn and T4) or from a plastic explosive such as Semtex H or from a booster (T4) or from a detonating fuse (Petn), one can claim to be in the presence of an explosive device which is missing, to be complete, only the detonator».
Why was there an explosion? And what is the connection to what happened immediately after, namely the collision with the oil tanker? These and many other questions about the Moby Prince tragedy have never been answered.
The weapons trafficking in Livorno harbor was linked to the disaster by some commentators, as was the explanation of the movements of the covert ships and of bureaucratic hurdles encountered when seeking official documents from the military commands. The incident happened at the same time as the Kurdish rebellion in northern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War. The media narrative of the rebellion was of a fully indigenous event, when it was in fact a NATO-run proxy operation to topple or weaken the government in Baghdad.
The Moby Prince disaster would have shone a spotlight on what was to remain in the dark. If so, the collision would have created a problem of such magnitude that the concealment of arms trafficking became a priority also over the rescue and, then, on the search for truth.