Namibian security forces have abandoned the search for a SA-registered container vessel, MV Umfolozi, which was reported stolen a week ago.The old "testing the engines" trick works again.
It is believed that the 133-metre-long ship is headed northwards, possibly to Russia.
The Umfolozi had been docked at Walvis Bay since September last year, after a collision with another SA-registered vessel, the dredger MV Ingwenya, belonging to the SA National Ports Authority.
The ship was refloated on July 15 and went missing after its captain, Alexander Saleh, radioed a false report of engine trouble while ostensibly conducting engine trials.
UPDATE: Cruel Kev had the story early. Hat tip: Fred Fry International.
UPDATE2: South Africa denies the ship was South African:
A container ship stolen from the Walvis Bay harbour in Namibia is not a South African vessel, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) revealed today.UPDATE3: A report on the "mystery deepening"here:
"The ship is not registered on any of our (South African) rolls at all," said Saleem Modak, Samsa's captain. It reportedly docked in Walvis Bay in September after a collision with the South African-registered dredger, the MV Ingwenya, while on its way to Cape Town with 335 tons of fuel on board. Originally called the MV Umfolozi, it was renamed the Michael S and sold to the Greek ship-owner, Alexander Saleh, after it was repaired.
The Umfolozi made headlines in September last year when it sank in the Walvis Bay harbour after colliding with a South African dredger.Doesn't sound all that mysterious.
After it was repaired and refloated, the Umfolozi was rechristened the Michael S and was sold to a Greek ship owner, Alexander Saleh, who, it is being alleged, is responsible for spiriting away the ship.
Crew members are alleged to have boarded the ship under false pretences, held two security guards captive and later dumped them and their belongings overboard.
It is alleged that Saleh boarded a plane at Windhoek's Hosea Kutako International Airport on the same day.
Approached for comment, Gusev confirmed to The Namibian that he had been notified of his suspension yesterday morning, and that it was related to the theft of the Umfolozi.