BOWERS BEACH, Del. – The captain of a Turkish merchant ship bound for Philadelphia has been charged with making a false statement to a federal official after telling a Coast Guard inspector the vessel had a bomb on board.
An FBI (search) spokesman said the captain became agitated when members of the Philadelphia Coast Guard boarded the ship for a routine inspection Thursday morning. He was apparently upset about the length of time the search was taking.
The captain also refused to allow authorities to search certain portions of the vessel, called the Cenk Kaptanoglu (search).
The captain told an officer that there was a bomb on board that was set to blow up when the ship docked at the Port of Philadelphia, according to the FBI spokesman.
The captain recanted his statement about the explosives. Nonetheless, after the inspection was completed officials removed him from the ship and took him to Wilmington, Delaware, where he was arraigned Friday. Making a false statement to a federal official is a felony.
A spokesman told The Associated Press that the Coast Guard had "no evidence whatsoever" that there actually was a bomb on board the vessel.
The Coast Guard confirmed that the ship was regarded prior to this incident as a "high-interest vessel," meaning authorities had been tracking its previous movements because of several factors, including its last port of call, its flag country and intelligence reports.
"We did a risk-based analysis, and decided to proceed with the inspections," a Coast Guard official told FOX News.
The Coast Guard will now decide whether to allow the Cenk Kaptanoglu back into the Port of Philadelphia to go about its business, or banish it entirely from U.S. territorial waters.
FOX News' Bret Baier, Ian McCaleb and The Associated Press contributed to this report.