Image: Jim Miklasszewski
By Jim Miklaszewski Chief Pentagon correspondent
NBC News
updated 7/22/2004 4:29:51 PM ET 2004-07-22T20:29:51

The commander of a Turkish merchant vessel has recanted his claim that there is a bomb on board his ship, but the U.S. Coast Guard is still preparing for a full inspection of the ship off the coast of Delaware.

According to officials, the Coast Guard had boarded the ship in the Port of Philadephia earlier Thursday for what is being described as a routine inspection when the master of the ship apparently became agitated that the process was taking so long and blurted out that he had a bomb on board.

He quickly withdrew the claim, but, according to one official, "It was too late — he had already rung the bell." So the Coast Guard ordered the ship back out to sea for a full inspection.

The Coast Guard confirmed to NBC News that it is waiting for bomb-sniffing dogs to begin the search and said they have no independent information that any explosive device is on board.

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