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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Russian Fleet Pursuing Leads in Ship Disappearance

Following up on earlier posts concerning the disappearance of a Maltese-flagged/Finnish-owned/Russian-manned timber ship (see here, here and here), a chunk of the Russian Navy has been pressed into service to locate the missing vessel Arctic Sea, as set out here:
Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian navy, told the state news agency Itar-Tass: “Under the orders of President Dmitry Medvedev all Russian naval ships in the Atlantic have been sent to join the search for the Arctic Sea.”

Russia’s radar systems and satellites are also also searching for the ship amid unconfirmed reports that it was heading towards Africa.

A Defence Ministry spokesman told the RIA Novosti agency: “The main task lies with the patrol combatant vessel Ladnyy of the Black Sea Fleet, which passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 12 August and is following the set course.”

The large amphibious warships Azov, Yamal and Novocherkassk were also reported to have entered the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar, suggesting that ships on a pre-arranged military exercise have now received a signal from Moscow to join the hunt for the Arctic Sea.
I'm a little unclear about the section referring to "Russia's radar systems" which does not seem to be referring to shipboard radar.

UPDATE: No time to fully explore, but here's an intriguing report:
A Spanish port authority has officially denied claims by Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti that missing Russian general cargoship Arctic Sea has turned up at one of the ports for which it is responsible.
UPDATE2: Fairplay reports Russian questions for ship operator:
THE FINNISH company on record as owning the missing Arctic Sea said its officials have been interrogated by Russian security investigators, Fairplay was told today.

Nikolay Karpenkov, managing director of Solchart Arkhangelsk, said he answered questions from “the special organs who demanded this information from me”.
The article also notes that, given the ship's fuel capacity, the ship had better be near its destination or the tank may run dry.

Many have suggested that destination is somewhere along the African west coast.

UPDATE3: Daniel Sekulich on "phantom ships".

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