No announcement yet.

Hunt on for 'hijacked cargo ship' - Not Somalian Pirates!

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Hunt on for 'hijacked cargo ship' - Not Somalian Pirates!

    But not off the Somalian Coast this time!!!!

    A search is under way for a cargo ship which may have travelled through the English Channel after apparently being hijacked by pirates.

    Coastguards fear the Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea, carrying 15 Russian crew, was hijacked in the Baltic sea.

    UK authorities made contact before it entered the Strait of Dover but the Russian navy told the Itar-Tass agency it was now looking for the ship.

    The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the situation was "bizarre".

    Spokesman Mark Clark said: "Who would think that a hijacked ship could pass through one of the most policed and concentrated waters in the world?

    "It seems strange to think that a ship which had been hijacked was passing along the channel along with ships carrying day-trippers going over to Calais for the day."

    Hijackers may have been coercing the ship's crew when they made radio contact with coastguards at Dover on 28 July, the MCA fears.

    Reports say Swedish authorities were told by the Finnish shipping line operating the 3,988-tonne cargo ship that it was boarded by up to 10 armed men claiming to be anti-drugs police as it sailed through the Baltic sea on July 24.

    The intruders apparently left the vessel - which was carrying about £1m worth of sawn timber from Finland to Algeria - 12 hours later on an inflatable boat after damaging the Arctic Sea's communications equipment.

    But on 3 August, Interpol told Dover Coastguard that the crew had been hijacked in the Baltic Sea and asked UK authorities to be alert as the vessel passed through the channel.

    By then the ship had already left the Strait of Dover and was last recorded off the coast of Brest, northern France, just before 0130 BST on 30 July.

    The MCA said it was told the vessel had seemingly been spotted subsequently by a Portuguese coastal patrol aircraft but its current location was unknown.

    Mr Clark said the person on board whom coastguards had spoken to had told them the ship was due to arrive in Bejaia, northern Algeria, on 4 August at 2300 BST.

    He added: "There is no coastguard I know who can remember anything like this happening.

    "There didn't seem anything suspicious when contact was made. It could well be that a crew member had a gun put to his head by a hijacker when contact was made, but who knows?

    "We are extremely curious to find out what could have happened to this vessel."

    World leaders have become increasingly concerned about pirates operating off the coast of Somalia.

    But Nick Davis, who runs the private security firm Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions, told the BBC's Today programme that the relatively low value of the cargo suggested this was a different kind of piracy to that seen off the coast of East Africa.

    Instead, he suggested, it was more likely that the apparent seizure was the result of a "commercial dispute" in which one party had decided to "take matters into their own hands".

    He added: "Piracy is piracy - if someone's wanting to take that vessel, and they're not authorised, and they use a speedboat to go and get it, then it's no different to what the Somalis do.

    "However, I don't believe they would have boarded that vessel firing weapons in the air, and threatening to kill the crew.

    "Whilst it is piracy, it's not like what we know in Somalia."

    Russian authorities have said they have been assessing the situation and Navy vessels have been notified, according to Itar-Tass.

    Vladimir Kochurov, deputy head of the Arkhangelsk regional administration's transport department, told the agency that there was "scarce information" about the Arctic Sea.

    He added: "Security services are holding the investigation.

    "Meanwhile, the regional administration is ready for rapid reaction in case the situation clarifies. We will give assistance to the crew."
    Last edited by pmtts; 12 August 2009, 11:56.

  • #2
    Russia hunts Arctic Sea

    RUSSIA today dispatched four naval vessels to hunt for the missing cargo ship Arctic Sea.

    The Finnish vessel and its 15 Russian crewmen went missing on 29 July, having allegedly been hijacked in Swedish waters.

    Russian sources suggested two theories about the vessel's disappearance. One is that the 4,706dwt vessel was loaded with a cargo that was secret while docked at the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, the vessel's last port of call before it set out from Finland on its voyage.

    Another theory is that there is a dispute between the vessel owner and others, possibly a bank lender, in which the master and the crew have taken the owner's side.

    All attempts to make contact with the owner or his representatives by crew relatives, Russian and international media have been in vain.

    The Kremlin website said today: "[President] Dmitry Medvedev has ordered Minister of Defence Anatoly Serdyukov to take all necessary measures for the detection and, in case of need, relief of the Arctic Sea."

    But the navy announced on 2 August that a flotilla of three troop-landing vesels and a Ladny Krivak-class frigate had left port at Sevastopol on course for Kaliningrad, where they will join other Russian fleet groups in a pre-planned exercise called West 2009.

    This story was originally published in Fairplay Magazine


    • #3
      'Secret cargo' fear over missing ship
      Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 10:37 AM

      A secret cargo and not just timber may be on board a missing ship whose last known radio contact was with British Coastguards, it was suggested today.

      Russia’s navy fleet and two nuclear submarines have been scrambled as efforts intensified to locate the Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea and its 15-strong Russian crew.

      Experts and marine authorities continued to be baffled today that the 4,000-tonne vessel “disappeared” after its last official recorded positioning off northern France on July 30.

      Mikhail Voitenko, editor of Russia’s Sovfracht maritime bulletin, said the ship, carrying sawn timber from Finland to Algeria, might have been targeted because it was also loaded with an unknown cargo.

      He told the Russia Today news channel: “The only sensible answer is that the vessel was loaded secretly with something we don’t know anything about.

      “We have to remember that before loading in Finland the vessel stayed for two weeks in a shipyard in Kaliningrad.

      “I’m sure it cannot be drugs or illegal criminal cargo. I think it is something much more expensive and dangerous.

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

      The Arctic Sea made routine radio contact with Dover Coastguard as it was about to enter the Strait of Dover from the North Sea at 1.52pm on July 28.

      Days later Interpol informed the British Coastguard that the ship had been hijacked days before in the Baltic Sea.

      According to reports, it was boarded by up to 10 armed men purporting to be anti-drugs police on July 24.

      Some 12 hours later, the intruders apparently left the ship on a high-speed inflatable boat and allowed the vessel to continue on its passage but with its communications equipment damaged.

      By the time Interpol alerted Dover Coastguard about the apparent hijacking, the Arctic Sea had already passed through the English Channel, UK Coastguards said.

      The ship failed to reach its destination at Bejaia in northern Algeria on August 4, as a supposed crew member on board the vessel told Dover Coastguard when radio contact was made.

      It was last recorded on the AISLive ship tracking system off the coast of Brest, northern France, just before 1.30am on July 30, but its whereabouts now remains a mystery.

      Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has ordered all Russian navy ships in the Atlantic to search for the missing vessel, the country’s Itar-Tass news agency reported.

      Mark Clark, of the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), said Dover Coastguard was unsuspecting of anything untoward as a supposed crew member radioed before the ship journeyed through the Channel.

      He said: “It’s bizarre. There is no coastguard I know who can remember anything like this happening. Who would think that a hijacked ship could pass through one of the most policed and concentrated waters in the world?”

      The MCA said it was informed a Portuguese coastal patrol aircraft spotted the vessel later but its current whereabouts remain unknown.

      Mark Dickinson, general secretary of seafarers’ union Nautilus International, raised concerns about the authorities’ “relaxed approach” which he claimed had “led to the shipping industry being the Achilles heel of global security”.

      Read more:

      Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


      • #4
        The disappearance of the Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea and its 15-strong Russian crew is an ongoing mystery.
        The ‘Arctic Sea’ was last heard from in the Dover Straits. The ship had sailed from Finland with a cargo of timber destined for Algeria. It was last spotted off Portugal's Atlantic coast on August 1, two days after its AIS appears to have been switched off.

        It seems, according to Malta’s Maritime Authority, that on 28 July, the managers of the Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea told the Helsinki police authorities that the ship had been hijacked in Swedish waters four days earlier by between eight and 12 men armed with guns and pistols and dressed as policemen. These intruders assaulted the crew, injuring some of them, before tying them up and questioning them about ‘drug trafficking’ for a number of hours – and may have damaged equipment that delayed communications.

        However, it was assumed that after rummaging through the vessel, the hijackers left some 12 hours later in the same high-speed inflatable they had arrived in, so by the time Arctic Sea passed through the Dover Straits it appeared that nothing was wrong, and no alarm was sounded.

        There are a number of theories as to what has happened. Nick Davis of the Merchant Maritime Warfare Centre told the ‘Today’ programme on Radio 4 that he ‘strongly suspected’ the disappearance was linked to some kind of commercial dispute with a third party, which took matters into its own hands. He said he also suspected that by now the vessel would be repainted, renamed and sitting off the west coast of Africa – adding that he thinks the crew will turn up soon, asking to go home. But what if they don’t?

        Tim Crossin of CS5, another maritime security firm with experience of piracy, says there are many differing ideas as to what has happened, none of which can be substantiated as yet. One other theory is that it could have been part of a plan to use the ship as a transfer vessel for drug or arms trafficking. Another, equally valid point is made by Mr Crossin who says that a relatively small number of stowaways could have kept in hiding on the boat, since it would only need six at most to take control of the vessel a while after the original incident.

        Further, he notes that although the missing Arctic Sea is in the press due to its disappearance, it is not especially uncommon for boats to be boarded in European or Mediterranean waters, ‘There have been lots and lots of short, one-off incidents that don’t make the news, partly because the people concerned are embarrassed. Smaller vessels get boarded all the time.’

        Click pic to enlarge!
        Attached Files
        Last edited by Test Pilot; 13 August 2009, 16:47.


        • #5
          Russians quiz Arctic Sea 'owner'

          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”.
          When asked whether he had been questioned by the Federal Security Service (formerly KGB) or the prosecutor general, he replied “no comment”.
          The Arctic Sea is owned by Arctic Sea Malta, added Karpenkov, who refused to say how Solchart and the Maltese company are related, or who the beneficial owner is.
          In a separate interview with Fairplay yesterday, Karpenkov said the ship, as far as he was aware, had not sunk.
          Calculations of the amount of fuel the Arctic Sea was carrying to reach its intended destination of Algeria on 4 August, suggest the vessel could have reached a port in western Africa several days ago. Depending on its speed, the Arctic sea is unlikely to have much fuel left to continue underway in the Atlantic. Fairplay's database also reveals that three sisterships of the Arctic Sea are reported to have capsized and been lost at sea, while a fourth capsized alongside a berth in West Africa.
          Karpenkov was asked to say how much fuel was loaded on the Arctic Sea in Finland, and what its voyage range was.
          He replied: “No comment.”
          Fairplay data indicates that the vessel has bunker capacity of 275 tonnes, with a daily operating consumption rate of 13 tonnes. If still under way at sea, the Arctic Sea is therefore close to fuel exhaustion, and must soon put into port or run out of fuel.

          This story was originally published in Sea-Sentinel


          • #6

            Missing Ship Arctic Sea Owner Unaware of Cape Verde Sighting

            By Anastasia Ustinova

            Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The Finnish company that operates the Arctic Sea, the Maltese-flagged freighter that disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean, said he’s “unaware” of a report that the vessel had been spotted off the Cape Verde islands.

            The Financial Times Deutschland reported the sighting today, without saying where it got the information.

            Viktor Matveyev, managing director of Oy Solchart Management AB, said by telephone from Helsinki that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev “has the situation under control” and that he hopes for a successful outcome.

            To contact the reporter on this story: Anastasia Ustinova in St. Petersburg at

            Last Updated: August 14, 2009 07:49 EDT


            • #7
              And for anyone with fluent German or maybe Babelfish:



              • #8
                Maybe I'm being sensationalist, but isn't a ship like this an ideal means to carry a "dirty bomb" to wherever it is required?
                Mk 1 eyeball is the only way this vessel will be found now, hopefully it won't be too late. Sadly, our coast has no permanent presence watching seaward.
                AIS is fine for vessel monitoring, until the subject switches its transponder off.

                Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                • #9
                  Missing cargo ship found near Cape Verde

                  AP – By LYNN BERRY, Associated Press Writer Lynn Berry, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 14 mins ago
                  MOSCOW – A Russian-manned cargo ship that vanished last month in the Atlantic was found Friday near Cape Verde off the coast of West Africa, according to French and Russian officials. There was no immediate information about the condition of the crew or whether there was anyone else on board.
                  The Arctic Sea — carrying a load of timber and 15 Russian sailors — disappeared after passing through the English Channel on July 28. The Maltese-flagged freighter sent radio messages as it sailed along the coasts of France and Portugal, but then all contact was lost.
                  "Cape Verde coast guards said they have located the boat" about 520 miles (840 kilometers) off Cape Verde, said French Defense Ministry spokesman Capt. Jerome Baroe. France was involved in search efforts together with several other countries.
                  Two military officials in Brussels separately confirmed the ship had been tracked and located off West Africa. The officials asked not to be named while the operation was ongoing.
                  Russian naval ships were ordered to pursue the ship after the Cape Verde coast guard reported the freighter was outside the country's territorial waters to the north, Russian Ambassador to Cape Verde Alexander Karpushin told The Associated Press.
                  The ambassador did not say when the naval ships were expected to arrive in the area. The four ships involved in the search, including a frigate, had entered the Atlantic late Tuesday. Their whereabouts Friday were unknown.
                  It also was unclear whether the freighter had laid anchor or was continuing to sail south. It had enough food and fuel to last through the end of the month, the ship's Russian operator said.
                  The ship's crew had reported a June 24 attack in Swedish waters by up to a dozen masked men, who they said tied them up, questioned them about drug trafficking, beat them and searched the freighter before leaving 12 hours later in a high-speed inflatable boat.
                  The alleged attack, unusual in itself, raised further concerns because it was not reported until the freighter had passed through Britain's busy shipping lanes and was heading out into the wide Atlantic. There have been fears that some of the attackers might still be aboard.
                  The Arctic Sea, which left from Finland on June 23, had been due to make port Aug. 4 in Algeria with its euro1.3 million ($1.8 million) haul of timber.
                  The European Commission suggested the ship may have come under attack a second time. "Radio calls were apparently received from the ship, which had supposedly been under attack twice, the first time off the Swedish coast and then off the Portuguese coast," said commission spokesman Martin Selmayr. He said he could add no further comment so as not to hinder the ongoing law enforcement activities.
                  The Portuguese Foreign Ministry said, however, that the ship was never in Portuguese territorial waters.
                  The ship's operator, Solchart Arkhangelsk, said it had no information about a possible second attack. Company officials said all attempts to communicate with the crew have failed.
                  The ship's captain is 50-year-old Sergei Zaretsky, a veteran of such sea voyages, said Solchart deputy director Ivan Boiko. All of the sailors are from Arkhangelsk, a port city in the far northwest of Russia.
                  French maritime authorities said they received radio messages on July 29 as the ship sailed past the north coast of France. The Arctic Sea's report to British maritime authorities as it passed through the Dover Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, was the last known voice contact with the crew.
                  Speculation on what might have happened to the ship has ranged from suspicions that it was carrying secret cargo — possibly narcotics — to theories about a commercial dispute. Security experts have been wary of attributing its disappearance to bandits, noting that piracy is almost unheard of in European waters.
                  "It would seem that these acts, such as they have been reported, have nothing in common with 'traditional' acts of piracy or armed robbery at sea," Selmayr said.
                  David Osler, a maritime journalist at Lloyd's List in London, said there are three main types of piracy. There is the sort seen in Somalia, where a gang takes the ship and the captain, and demands a ransom in return for release.
                  In the Far East, criminals would steal the entire ship, repaint it and trade it — creating what are called "phantom ships," Osler said in an interview.
                  And in less developed areas, piracy has sometimes been more like armed robbery, he said, noting that ships often carry cash around for necessities while traveling. "It's like holding up the local liquor store," he said. "It's just for cash."
                  Osler said the 18-year-old Arctic Sea was not particularly valuable. "The ship isn't really worth stealing," he said, noting most such ships have a life of 20-25 years.
                  Associated Press writers Maria Danilova in Paris, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Slobodan Lekic in Brussels and Jennifer Quinn in London contributed to this report.



                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Goldie fish View Post
                    Maybe I'm being sensationalist, but isn't a ship like this an ideal means to carry a "dirty bomb" to wherever it is required?
                    Mk 1 eyeball is the only way this vessel will be found now, hopefully it won't be too late. Sadly, our coast has no permanent presence watching seaward.
                    AIS is fine for vessel monitoring, until the subject switches its transponder off.

                    AIS has a limited range, around fifty miles at best. It is transmitted on VHF. On small craft it's not far off line of sight.

                    An active sat com system would be best.

                    But, as you say, just turn it off and you are no longer seen.

                    There would be a case for a covert system, known only to crew and owner, for use in the event of tracking in the event of an emergency. It would have to be dedicated to a private frequency and scrambled, so that if the attackers were to montor all known channels this would go undetected. A spare EPIRB would be of no use, as it would alert everyone including the attackers.

                    A sat phone perhaps, just to fire a short burst of data and hopefully go undetected?

                    In any event, this whole issue aroud this ship stinks to high hell !

                    Why have the Russians got their nickers in a twist over a 'cargo of timber'?

                    I'll bet there was a stash of vodka being transported!


                    • #11
                      there is a ssas system on every vessel which is a silent alarm and will call the owners and flag state.


                      • #12
                        'Ransom demand' for missing ship

                        The thick plottens
                        Everyone who's ever loved you was wrong.


                        • #13
                          Russia 'finds missing cargo ship'

                          Russia says it has found a missing cargo vessel near the Cape Verde islands and retrieved its Russian crew.

                          Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said that the 15-member crew had been taken on board a Russian navy vessel. They were in good condition, he said.

                          The Finnish-owned Arctic Sea went off radar after passing through the English Channel with its cargo of timber.

                          Speculation over the cause of its disappearance had ranged from pirates to a mafia dispute to a commercial row.

                          The Arctic Sea was found early on Monday 300 miles (480 km) off Cape Verde in the Atlantic Ocean, Tass news agency quoted Mr Serdyukov as telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

                          "The crew have been transferred to another ship. They are being interrogated now in order to find out what happened," Mr Serdyukov said.

                          The sailors were "alive, healthy and are not under armed guard", the agency quoted him as saying.

                          Carrying timber reportedly worth $1.8m (£1.1m), the 4,000-tonne Maltese-flagged vessel sailed from Finland and had been scheduled to dock in the Algerian port of Bejaia on 4 August.

                          The crew reported having been boarded by up to 10 armed men as the ship sailed through the Baltic Sea on 24 July, but the intruders were reported to have left the vessel on an inflatable boat after 12 hours.

                          The last known contact with the crew was when the Arctic Sea reported to British maritime authorities in Dover as it passed through the English Channel.

                          It was then sighted in the Bay of Biscay on 30 July.

                          On Saturday, police in Finland said a ransom demand had been made, but emphasised that they could not confirm its authenticity.



                          • #14
                            Russia arrests cargo ship hijackers
                            Tuesday, 18 August 2009 11:02
                            Russia has arrested eight people who it accused of hijacking the merchant ship Arctic Sea.

                            Defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov said that the hijackers, whose disappearance baffled maritime authorities for weeks, included nationals from Russia, Estonia and Latvia.

                            He added that the crew was rescued without a shot being fired.

                            Russia's navy located the ship near the Cape Verde islands in the Atlantic Ocean yesterday.

                            The Maltese-registered, Finnish-chartered vessel departed Finland on 23 July for the Algerian port of Bejaia, where it had been due to dock on 4 August.

                            The 4,000-tonne bulk carrier with a 15-strong Russian crew went missing shortly after passing through the Dover Strait between France and Britain.

                            The ship was said to be carrying a €1.16m cargo of timber.
                            This gets stranger every day, still no reason why a vessel heading for Malta was found off the Cabo Verde coast...
                            And why it was the Russian navy that found them there, and nobody else...

                            Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                            • #15

                              Black Sea based Krivak I Class FFG 'LADNY' which is reported to have apprehended the 'ARCTIC SEA'.

                              It's a long way from home off Cape Verde, would definitely need AOR support for extended ops.
                              Last edited by Dogwatch; 18 August 2009, 23:17.