The captain of the St. Vincent-flagged cargo ship Mare on Tuesday ordered his crew to abandon ship amid strong winds and choppy seas off the coast of the southern Aegean island of Crete, the state-run Athens Macedonia News Agency reported.

According to initial reports from the Greek coast guard, the Mare has been stranded half a nautical mile from a beach on the outskirts of Iraklio, on the island's northern coast. It does not appear to have any mechanical problems or to be taking on water. It is being monitored by helicopter, while the crew of six is reportedly safe on land.

The Mare set sail with a mixed cargo from Turkey for Tunisia when it got caught up in gale-force winds in Greek waters.