A Ukraine-flag freighter loaded with 1,990 crates of contraband cigarettes was seized by port authorities off the Argosaronic Gulf early Friday.

The ship was escorted to the port of Keratsini, near Piraeus, where its 8-member crew, all Ukrainian nationals, was arrested.

The ship was sailing from Cyprus to the Albanian port of Durres.

The freighter was spotted as it was sailing southeast of Salamis island by Greek port authorities, who immobilised it and escorted it to Keratsini for inspection.

According the Economic Crimes Squad, the ship's loading orders were fake as the recipient company cited said it was unaware of any shipment.

The cigarettes were of several brand names, and initial estimates put the shipment at 19.9 million cigarettes.

Port authorities also ascertained that the vessel's seaworthiness certificates were expired.

The freighter and shipment were seized, and the crew will be taken before a public prosecutor.