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Originally published Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 5:06 AM

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Feds: NJ ship search turns up no stowaways

A cargo ship that U.S. authorities thought might be carrying stowaways was expected to leave Port Newark on Friday after a search of more than 160 sealed containers turned up no one.

The Associated Press

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NEWARK, N.J. —

A cargo ship that U.S. authorities thought might be carrying stowaways was expected to leave Port Newark on Friday after a search of more than 160 sealed containers turned up no one.

The Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that the search, triggered by a reported knocking sound, had ended with no stowaways found. The agency refused to answer questions about what may have caused the false alarm.

Federal authorities used X-ray machines and dogs in their search of the 850-foot Ville D'Aquarius in Newark, one of the nation's busiest ports.

The Coast Guard had said a boarding team on a routine inspection early Wednesday reported that when it knocked on a bulkhead, it heard knocking back over a two-hour period.

The last port of call for the ship was in Egypt on June 15. It is headed to Norfolk, Va.

The ship began its voyage May 30 in the United Arab Emirates, then made one stop in Pakistan and two stops in India. Its last port before Newark was in Egypt on June 15.

Federal authorities had said the routing of the ship and the fact that Port Newark is considered a prime target for terrorists contributed to the decision to act out of what they described as an abundance of caution.

The French container shipping company, CMA CGM, said container discharge and loading resumed Thursday and the ship was expected to leave Newark on Friday morning.

Spokesman Darrell Wilson said the company didn't know what might have led to the false alarm.

"We don't know what sounds they may have heard so we don't know where they may have originated from," he said.

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