Mystery deepens over missing ship

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Registered: 03-18-2000
Mystery deepens over missing ship
2
Thu, 08-13-2009 - 11:41am

Hmmmm. Interesting.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8199514.stm

Russian navy ships are hunting in the Atlantic for a 4,000-tonne cargo ship that vanished more than two weeks ago, triggering an international mystery.

Observers have suggested the ship was hijacked, possibly because of a Russian commercial dispute.


The Maltese-flagged ship, the Arctic Sea, has a 15-strong Russian crew.


Carrying timber reportedly worth $1.8m (£1.1m), it sailed from Finland and had been scheduled to dock in the Algerian port of Bejaia on 4 August.


The ship was last sighted in the Bay of Biscay on 30 July, according to the Russian media.


There were reports that the ship may have been spotted subsequently by a Portuguese coastal patrol aircraft, but a navy spokesman in Portugal said it had not passed through Portuguese waters.


Earlier in its voyage, the ship reported being boarded by up to 10 armed men as it sailed through the Baltic Sea on 24 July, but said the intruders left the vessel on an inflatable boat after 12 hours.


Malta's maritime authority said it had "not approached the Straits of Gibraltar, which indicates that the ship headed out in the Atlantic Ocean".


Unknown cargo?


Russian navy chief Adm Vladimir Vysotsky said there were five Russian warships and other vessels searching in the Atlantic.


"We have no concrete data on the location of the vessel as of the moment," he told Russian news agency Itar-Tass.


"All the information-intelligence systems of our armed forces, including the space-borne systems, the system of identification of sea vessels and others, have been calibrated to look for the missing ship," he added.








The longer it goes on, the more it looks like some sort of dispute between Russian interests


David Osler
Lloyds List

A Russian diplomat said that Russia was "actively working through diplomatic channels with all interested sides".


Analysts have said that the ship is likely to have been seized, but have stressed that it is a highly unusual case that appears to have occurred in an area where there are not normally pirate attacks.


David Osler, who writes on maritime safety for the newspaper Lloyds List, said Swedish police had been investigating whether the disappearance of the ship was the result of a dispute between the ship's owner and another party.


"The longer it goes on, the more it looks like some sort of dispute between Russian interests," he told the BBC.


Mikhail Voitenko, editor of Russia's Sovfracht maritime bulletin, said the ship may have been boarded because it was carrying a valuable, unknown cargo.


"We have to remember that before loading in Finland the vessel stayed for two weeks in a shipyard in Kaliningrad," he told the Russia Today TV channel.


"It seems some third party didn't want this transit to be fulfilled so they made this situation highly sophisticated and very complicated."


But the head of the ship's operator, Nikolai Karpenkov, dismissed speculation that there might be a mystery cargo on board.


He told Itar-Tass that the ship had been checked when leaving Kaliningrad after repairs, and in Finland, where he said nothing illegal or suspicious had been found.



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Registered: 03-18-2000
Fri, 08-14-2009 - 12:23pm





Missing ship 'found' off Africa







Map

A missing cargo ship with 15 Russian crew members on board has reportedly been spotted more than two weeks after it mysteriously disappeared.

The Arctic Sea was last sighted in the Bay of Biscay on 30 July, according to Russian media.


One source told AFP news agency that it had been seen some 400 miles from the Cape Verde islands, off West Africa.


Russian navy ships have been searching for the 4,000-tonne Maltese-flagged vessel, which had been carrying timber.


Observers have suggested the ship was hijacked, possibly because of a Russian commercial dispute.


Carrying timber reportedly worth $1.8m (£1.1m), it sailed from Finland and had been scheduled to dock in the Algerian port of Bejaia on 4 August.


Earlier in its voyage, the ship reported being boarded by up to 10 armed men as it sailed through the Baltic Sea on 24 July, but said the intruders left the vessel on an inflatable boat after 12 hours.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8202308.stm
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Registered: 03-18-2000
Sun, 08-16-2009 - 8:55am
Hijackers demand ransom for missing Finnish freighter

Mystery continues to swirl around the disappearance of the Arctic Sea, a Finnish freighter with a Russian crew. The latest reports have the hijackers demanding a ransom.

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4574869,00.html


Finnish media on Saturday said that a ransom demand had been received from the people who hijacked the freighter "Arctic Sea". According to the Financial Times Deutschland, the hijackers have demanded a ransom of $1.5 million (1.05 million euros), but have not revealed the source of this information.


According to the well respected Russian maritime journal Sovfrakht, the ship's automatic identification signal was turned on briefly, and sent a signal at 0830GMT on Saturday August 15 before it went silent again. (Me: This was turned off mysteriously when the ship was first went missing. Usually these are on all the time.)


Over the weekend, reports had the freighter in the neighborhood of the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa, as well as in the Bay of Biscay near France.


A French navy spokesman Jerome Baroe dismissed the report that the "Arctic Sea" was off the coast of France and said it was most likely that the ship was headed for Brazil.


Mikhail Boytenko, the editor of Sovfrakht was of the opinion that there was something a lot more sinister going on.


"I don't think that is was pirates who took this vessel but it really smells of some sort of state involvement. This is real cloak and dagger stuff, like a le Carre novel," he said according to Reuters.


Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said that Russia and NATO were coordinating their efforts to locate the ship.


Rumors about what is really going on with the ship continued to circulate. Theories range that this is some sort of Russian organized crime dispute, to the fact that the ship may be carrying some sort of mystery cargo that could possibly be of a radioactive nature, or arms for terrorists.


On July 23, the "Arctic Sea" set sail from Finland carrying a cargo of lumber bound for Algeria. While sailing through the Baltic Sea off Sweden in the early hours of the next morning, the ship was allegedly boarded by a band of up to a dozen men posing as Swedish narcotics police.


Currently there are about 20 countries looking for the ship and the Russians are using a submarine, a naval vessel

 


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