Mystery deepens over disappearing merchant ship
2009-08-14 0:00

By Guy Faulconbridge | Reuters.com

The mystery surrounding a missing merchant ship deepened Thursday with the vessel's operator suggesting piracy and maritime experts suspecting foul play or even a secret cargo.


Undated photo of the Maltese-registered, Finnish-chartered vessel, Arctic Sea, that mysteriously disappeared off the coast of France two weeks ago. On Wednesday Russian warships were ordered to join the hunt for the ship, a 4,000-tonne bulk carrier with a 15-strong Russian crew that went missing shortly after passing through the Dover Strait between France and Britain late last month. REUTERS/SOVFRACHT


The Kremlin ordered Russian warships to join the hunt for the 4,000-tonne, 98-meter bulk carrier Arctic Sea, whose fate has baffled maritime authorities across Europe and North Africa.

The Maltese-registered vessel, carrying a $1.3-million cargo of timber, was supposed to have docked on August 4 in the Algerian port of Bejaia. It never arrived and is thought to have last made contact from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of France.

Mikhail Boytenko, editor of Russia's respected Sovfracht maritime journal, said that the ship may have been carrying a secret cargo unknown to the vessel's owners or operators.

"I think there was probably some sort of secret cargo on this vessel, not criminal but secret, and a third party of some sort did not want the cargo to get to another party so this highly sophisticated operation was cooked up," he told Reuters.

"I don't think that it 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 (John) le Carre novel."

A wave of piracy has hit shipping off Somalia, and an international naval force patrols its coast in an effort to protect merchant vessels. But a hijacking in European waters would be almost unprecedented in modern times.

"There has not been a so called incident of this kind around in Europe for a very long time," said Jim Davis, chairman of London-based industry group the International Maritime Industries Forum.

"It is a unique incident so far in European waters."

Piracy is rare in European waters with only a couple of recent incidents involving private yachts in the Mediterranean.

GHOST SHIP?

Concerns over the safety of the 15-member Russian crew were raised after the Malta Maritime Authority said it received reports the ship had been boarded by armed men in masks posing as anti-drugs police in Swedish waters on July 24.

Swedish authorities said none of its law enforcement agencies had been involved. Crew members were assaulted, tied, gagged and blindfolded and some were seriously hurt, Malta said.

Russia's navy denied a report on state television that the frigate Ladny was following a ship of a similar description in the Atlantic Ocean not far from Gibraltar.

"My view is that it is most likely that the vessel has been hijacked," Viktor Matveyev, director of the Finnish company Solchart, which operates the vessel, told Reuters. "We of course hope that everything is okay with the crew."

Swedish police said an investigator had spoken briefly to the crew on July 31 when the vessel was in the Atlantic after sailing through the Dover Strait between Britain and France. An electronic signal showing its location has been turned off.

The head of division at Sweden's national crime police, Maria Lonegard, told Reuters Television that the ship had behaved erratically in the Baltic Sea.

She played down fears of piracy, saying a written statement about events on the ship had been communicated from the vessel to the Finnish operator and then to Swedish police, she said.

Russia's domestic intelligence service, the FSB, was helping to investigate the mystery and its agents were at the offices of Solchart Arkhangelsk, which is listed as the ship's owner, Russian media reported.

Relatives of the crew appealed to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in an open letter and demanded a criminal investigation into the vessel's disappearance, Russian media reported, but have now stopped speaking publicly about the case.

(Additional reporting by Conor Sweeney and Oleg Shchedrov in Moscow, Tracy Rucinski in Madrid, Ilze Filks in Helsinki, Veronica Ek in Stockholm and Jonathan Saul in London; Editing by Charles Dick)
Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


Article from: Reuters.com


Video from:YouTube.com



Red Ice Creations Radio - Henning Witte - The Sinking of MS Estonia

Henning Witte - The Illuminati & Estonia Disaster Similarities to 9/11 & 7/7 (Subscription)

Anders Bjrkman - The M/S Estonia Accident investigation - The biggest Fraud in Maritime History




Related Articles
The Sinking of Estonia
Nine people disappeared without trace after being rescued. What happened?
Baltic Storm (2003)
Baltic Storm Trailer (Video)


Latest News from our Front Page

German Government Evict Poor Germans From Their Homes For Migrant Asylum Seekers
2015-09-03 2:40
This is a video of a report on replacement of poor Germans with Middle Eastern asylum seekers. This was made broudcasted on a German Left-leaning TV station on August 28, 2015. It's original title: The most poor of the poor have to vacate their homes for asylum seekers. Source: youtube.com
Black Lives Matter Radio Host Calls for Killing Whites and Police
2015-09-03 1:48
“It’s open season on killing whites and police officers." A blogtalkradio program associated with the Black Lives Matter movement spewed racist hate and called for a race war Monday, reports Breitbart. The YouTube video of the audio recording has since been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy prohibiting hate speech, but Breitbart has video (below) of the host "King Noble" making the comments, taken from ...
Irish will be an ethnic minority in Ireland by 2050
2015-09-02 22:32
The former President of Dublin City University says that Ireland’s natives will be a minority in the country by the middle of this century... Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski was referring to unpublished and unidentified United Kingdom based research. Speaking at the conferring ceremony at DCU on Tuesday he said that the Irish in Ireland will be a minority by 2050 while ...
Immigrant Crisis Is the Final Nail in the EU Coffin
2015-09-02 21:23
One of the biggest flaws with the EU, was the idea that they could house dozens of cultures with distinct histories and languages, all under one roof, and expect them to thrive. You can’t hold 28 nations together under one union, when all of these countries have wildly different interests, expectations, and priorities. Every time the EU faces a problem, ...
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
2015-09-02 19:43
Documents seen by The Independent show children are taught about the horrors of the Holocaust when they are still in kindergarten at the Beis Rochel boys’ school in north London. A whistle-blower, who wished to remain anonymous, has shown The Independent a worksheet given to boys aged three and four at the school. In it, children were asked to complete questions ...
More News »