Italy’s elite special forces stormed a cargo ship taken over by knife-wielding stowaways, reports say

Italy’s elite special forces stormed a cargo ship taken over by knife-wielding stowaways, reports say


  • Italian special forces scrambled to a cargo vessel in trouble on Friday.
  • After landing by helicopter, the soldiers reclaimed the ship, officials said.
  • About 15 people described as migrants were detained. One report said three were armed with blades.

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Italian special forces stormed a cargo ship that had been commandeered by knife-wielding stowaways, according to numerous reports and officials.

Italy’s elite San Marco Brigade was photographed landing by helicopter on the Turkish Galata Seaways vessel off the Italian coast on Friday.

Italian special forces landing on the Galata Seaways cargo ship on June 10, 2023.

Italian special forces landing on the Galata Seaways cargo ship on June 9, 2023.

Getty Images



Another photograph, seemingly taken from the ship’s surveillance footage, showed about seven soldiers in combat gear and assault weapons standing on the deck of the ship.

The vessel featured the branding of the Danish shipping giant DFDS. According to Reuters, it was sailing from Turkey to France.

Italian special forces on board the Galata Seways cargo ship on June 9, 2023.

Italian special forces on board the Galata Seaways cargo ship on June 9, 2023.

Getty Images



Italy’s ANSA news agency reported that the emergency broke out on Friday off the coast of Naples, leading the Italian military to scramble special forces to recapture it.

Citing unnamed sources, ANSA said that 13 men and two women had stowed away on board.

It said police seized two knives and a box cutter from them, and had referred three of the group to local prosecutors. Nobody was hurt, the agency said.

Italy’s defense minister, Guido Crosetto, hailed the soldiers in a statement on Twitter, commending them for a “splendid operation.”

—Guido Crosetto (@GuidoCrosetto) June 9, 2023

ANSA’s reporting described those on board as migrants.

Though details of the group were not made public, migrants fleeing violence and instability in the Middle East and North Africa have taken increasingly desperate steps to reach Europe and seek asylum.

The San Marco brigade is part of Italy’s Navy and roughly equivalent to forces like the Royal Marines or the US Marine Corps.

Per the website of the Italian defense ministry, the brigade is an elite force that specializes in keeping the peace at sea and intercepting vessels.

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