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U.S. SEIZES SHIP ACCUSED OF STEALING FUEL

U.S. marshals have seized a Panamanian freighter whose crew allegedly stole thousands of gallons of fuel while transporting ammunition to Desert Storm troops in Saudi Arabia, authorities said Friday.

None of the crew members, however, was arrested.A federal warrant alleged the 512-foot Anangel Leader stole the fuel while under charter to the U.S. Military Sealift Command earlier this year during ammunition deliveries, U.S. Marshal John McKay said.

The vessel, owned by Alpha-Venus Enterprises of Panama, had sailed from Yokohama, Japan, when it was seized Wednesday night in the southeast Alaska port of Ketchikan, where it was to have picked up pulp from a mill.

The ship, one of some 100 chartered in the massive sealift of supplies to Saudi Arabia, picked up ammunition for U.S. troops Jan. 9 in Wilmington, N.C., Marge Holtz, a spokeswoman for the Military Sealift Command, said.

She said the ship returned May 14 from Saudi Arabia loaded with cargo unloaded at the Sunny Point Military Ocean Terminal in North Carolina and then apparently left U.S. waters until reappearing in Alaska this week.

The federal warrant, issued by the U.S. attorney's office in Raleigh, N.C., sought the arrest of the vessel under civil forfeiture statutes and a civil complaint alleging theft by fraud.

McKay said the charges allege the ship and its crew defrauded the government of 61,740 gallons of fuel worth roughly $60,000.