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Saturday, August 15, 2009

MV Arctic Sea: The Mystery Continues

Spiegel Online has a nice round up of everything that is unknown about the MV Arctic Sea at Pirates, Mercenaries Or Smugglers?: Missing Russian Ship Reportedly Spotted. This includes a report of an unconfirmed ransom demand for the ship and another report of a second attack on this ship:
The German business daily reports that the ship was apparently hijacked, and that a ransom of around $1.5 million has been asked for. However, these reports remain unconfirmed. Meanwhile a spokesperson for Antonio Tajani, the European commissioner for transport, told news agencies that the ship had actually been the victim of two attacks -- one off the coast of Sweden, and another off the coast of Portugal. But, he said, it seemed as though the attacks had nothing to do with "traditional piracy" or "armed attacks on the high seas."
For those of you interested in seeing older reports posted as this story has unfolded (oldest post last), you can visit the links here, here, here, here, here and here.

And, if there aren't enough unknowns, the "found" reports may be premature - according to the Russians as set out here:

The Arctic Sea, which disappeared with a 15-strong Russian crew on board more than two weeks ago, was spotted about 520 miles off the Cape Verde islands yesterday, according to French officials.

But today Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported that it was still unconfirmed whether the sighted ship was the Arctic Sea.

More here:
According to the Itar-Tass news agency in Russia Alexander Karpushin, the country's ambassador in Cape Verde, had been unable to clarify the situation.

He told the Vesti news channel: “I met with the country’s authorities, in particular with the chief of the general staff of Cape Verde’s armed forces, who did not confirm the information that the ship had been detected.”

The Russian maritime website, Sovfrakht, also reported the ship's tracking system was broadcasting signals from the Bay of Biscay at 8.30am today.
The Bay of Biscay? As you can see from the map, there is a distance between "somewhere off Cape Verde" and "in the Bay of Biscay."

I'd pay attention to where the Russian Navy is heading.

Let the fun continue.

UPDATE: A report that there was a ransom demand:
A Finnish police officer told the AFP news agency on Saturday that a demand had been made in connection with the Arctic Sea, a 4,000 tonne Finnish-owned cargo ship.

Detective chief superintendent Jan Nyholm said: "Yes, it is true that there has been a demand for ransom, which is money.

"The demand has been made to the company which owns the ship, Solchart Management in Finland."

Markku Ranta-Aho of Finland's National Bureau of Investigation told national YLE radio that the demand was addressed to the Finland-based company that owns the Arctic Sea, but would not give further details or say where the ship might be located.
UPDATE2: Videos of interest:
Ransom demand:

Ship may not be valuable, crew is:
A good question How on earth has the 'Arctic Sea' vanished?. And some more thoughts on this mess as a Warning Shot.

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