Captain astonished to find out his ship delivered Beirut explosive

Retired Russian mariner says he was abandoned by vessel’s owner in 2013 while transporting the dangerous cargo, stranded in port for 11 months

7 August 2020

When Boris Prokoshev, a former sea captain spending his retirement years in a Russian village, woke up and found an email saying a ship he once commanded had carried the ammonium nitrate that blew up swathes of Beirut, he was astonished.

“I didn’t understand anything,” he told The Associated Press on Thursday from Verkhnee Buu, 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) south of Moscow.

The email was from a journalist, he said, and titled with the name of the MV Rhosus, which he had captained on a voyage that he was never paid for.

“I opened my inbox and saw a letter about the Rhosus; I thought maybe they were sending me money, my salary,” he said.

The 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that blew up in Beirut’s port on Tuesday — killing at least 149 people, injuring more than 5,000 and causing widespread destruction — wasn’t supposed to have been in Lebanon at all. When the Rhosus set sail from the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi, it was bound for the Mozambican port of Beira.