EILAT (Nov. 4)
The 23-year-old Greek freighter Olympos docked here at 2 a.m. local time this morning to an official welcome reminiscent of the greetings once extended to trans-Atlantic luxury liners on their maiden voyages to New York. Although most of the town slept, the waterfront was crowded with reporters and television cameramen and an official welcoming party headed by Transport Minister Gad Yaacobi. The Olympos is chartered by Israel’s national shipping company, Zim.
Her Master, Captain Jerasimus Lukaris, a 36-year-old Greek national, had his wife, Maria and their three-year-old son Nichos along on the voyage indicating that he expected no trouble in the passage through the Suez Canal. The Olympos’ crew consists of 25 Greeks and five Pakistanis. The vessel brought 8500 tons of cement from Rumania.
At a press conference aboard the ship, Lukaris said the Egyptian authorities took extraordinary security measures to protect his vessel during her transit through the 100-mile waterway. An Egyptian police boat escorted the ship through the canal, Several seamen said they saw Egyptian police cars patrolling the roads parallel to the waterway and policemen were stationed aboard the ship along with the Egyptian canal pilot. They could not confirm reports that the Egyptians surrounded the vessel with depth charges, to prevent sabotage attempts while she was anchored off Port Said waiting to enter the canal several days ago.
Lukaris said the Egyptian authorities were fully aware of the ship’s cargo and destination and treated him correctly. There was no sign of ill-will on the Egyptian side, he said. The Olympos arrival here was delayed by strong northerly winds in the Guff of Aqaba which slowed her down to eight knots on her passage from Sharm el-Sheikh to Eilat. The Olympos will return to Europe via Suez with a cargo of Israeli phosphates.