First time since centuries: pirates in the Baltic Sea

Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 03:21 am
Pirates seize freighter in Baltic Sea

Fri, 31 Jul 2009 04:53:35 GMT

Stockholm/Helsinki - Pirates seized a freighter in the Baltic Sea off Sweden, Swedish and Finnish media said Friday. The attack against the Malta-registered freighter Arctic, which was carried a cargo of logs, took place last week and ended after 12 hours.
Eight masked men boarded the ship and searched its hold, claiming to be drug police.
The 15 Russian crew members were imprisoned and some of them beaten. The shipping company reported the incident only to the Russian embassy in Helsinki, which passed on the information to Scandinavian authorities with a delay of several days.
Swedish police confirmed the incident, but said it had no further information circumstances and motives behind the attack.
Source: dpa via EarthTimes

Finnish ship hijacked off Swedish coast
Source: Newsroom Finland

The ship: Artic Sea, 3,988 t gross tonnage, built 1991.
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Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 04:17 am

Those ships, and all ships, shoud begin arming themselves defensively.

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Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 05:48 am
Something tells me that these arent Somali pirates, so they wont be able to claim poverty and that they are just trying to support themselves.
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Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 09:05 am
@Walter Hinteler,
piracy in the baltic sea goes back a long way - scandinavian kings and warlords (as well as those from other european countries had pirates on their payrolls ) ...
and raided each others ships and settlements quite frequently throughout history .
as it is still today , it was about money and power .


the danes (part of the vikings) , were feared all over western europe for their ruthlessnes .



During the 9th to 11th centuries AD, Denmark expanded its territory and developed a strong monarchy. This was the age of the Vikings, seafaring warriors from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden who plundered the coasts of Europe (see Vikings). From 800 to 1042 they frequently raided the British coast, and they conquered and colonized England in the early 11th century.

The Danish king Harald I Bluetooth became a Christian in about 960, and the kingdom soon adopted Christianity. Harald also took credit for unifying all of Denmark and conquering Norway. His conquest of Norway was short-lived, but the state was recaptured for Denmark by his son and again by his grandson King Canute (see Canute the Great).

new movie : PIRATES OF THE BALTIC - starring KING CANUTE


they sure had style !
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 10:01 am
According to the Svedish daily paper "Expressen" (a tabloid) ...

(Expressen, 31.07.09, page 24)

... investigators speculated that the 'pirates' may have actually been a drugs gang that was acting on a tip to search for contraband.
Investigator Ingemar Isaksson was quoted by Expressen as saying there were a number of open questions, including why the crew waited several days before reporting the incident to the ship's owners Solchart Management.
Investigators however said they was no indication of a possible a rise in piracy in Swedish waters, which had not seen a single incident of piracy in modern times

Text from Monsters and Critics
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 08:15 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Seems, the story is now in a kind of different light - as some already questioned before:

Ship with Russian crew disappears - report
Sun Aug 9, 2009 2:39pm BST

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A cargo ship with a Russian crew has been missing for 12 days and its last known location was off the coast of Portugal, the Russian maritime journal Sovfracht reported Sunday on its website.

The Maltese-flagged bulk carrier, Arctic Sea, failed to arrive at the Algerian port of Bejaia on August 4 as planned and the last communication with it occurred on July 28, according to the website www.odin.tc.

"On July 28, the ship literally disappeared - no communication, no data on its location, not from the owners, nor relatives, nor Lloyds," the website states. Sovfracht's editor did not return calls to Reuters.

The same vessel, carrying timber, was boarded on July 24 off the Swedish coast and searched by attackers posing as policemen, who tied up the crew for 12 hours before leaving, the site states, quoting earlier media reports.

The 4,700-tonne ship, originally called Okhotsk, was built in 1991, has a Russian crew of 13 and is operated by a firm based in the Russian port of Arkhangelsk, according to data at the end of March, the site states.

Some of the earlier quoted reports in the Russian media stated there were 15 crew at the time of the boarding, and that the ship was transporting Finnish timber to Algeria. They also stated the earlier incident was being investigated in Sweden.

(Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by Robert Woodward)
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 01:30 am
There has been a lot going on with the mystery about this ship, published in the media nearly every day during the last couple of weeks.

The last report as of today, from the Independent (photos: print edition, page 25)


Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 01:30 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Russia charged eight men with piracy and kidnapping yesterday over the hijacking of the Arctic Sea, the ship with a 15-man Russian crew that disappeared en route to Algeria several weeks ago.

The 7,000-tonne freighter, carrying timber worth £800,000 from Finland, was apprehended off Africa on 17 August. But in the days since she was "found" by the Russian anti-submarine ship Ladny, mystery surrounding the story has only increased, with each statement by Russian officials muddying the waters further.

Seven of the men are charged with piracy and kidnap, and the eighth is charged with organising the crime that started in the Baltic, two days after the vessel set sail. They are said to be two Russians, one Latvian, one Estonian and four stateless persons.

Vladimir Markin, of Russia's Investigative Committee, said: "Having got together weapons, masks and black clothes with 'Police' written on them, as well as a small boat, on the night of 24 July in open, international waters, the accused attacked and hijacked the Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea, which was carrying a cargo of timber."

Russian investigators say the men claimed to be part of an ecological organisation, although they were unable to name it. So far, there has been no explanation of why they had such a flimsy cover story, what they were demanding and why they gave themselves up without a fight or threats. Some maritime security experts suspect the men had not been on the ship at all, but were part of an elaborate cover-up. In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that when the ship was stopped, her captain claimed she was a North Korean vessel Chongdin 2, carrying timber from Cuba to Sierra Leone, but investigation showed the real Chongdin 2 was docked in Angola.

The ministry statement said it was still unclear if the "initial hijacking" of the vessel on 24 July was related to later events. Earlier reports suggested that men did board the ship dressed in black police outfits, but spoke to the crew in English, not Russian. After tying them, beating them and interrogating them, ostensibly about drugs, they left the vessel several hours later. The ,inistry, in something of an understatement, admitted there were still some "grey spots" in the story.

It was also stated officially by the Russians for the first time that the ship had never really been "lost" and that her course was tracked continuously. This appears to validate statements from Maltese authorities and elsewhere that the boat was being traced throughout the duration of its bizarre voyage that ended 300 miles off the Cape Verde Islands.

A further twist came when a family near the Russian city of Kursk said they recognised a long-lost nephew in television pictures of the pirates being arrested. The family were certain that the man identified as Andrei Lunev on Russian television was the man of the same name who disappeared in a fishing accident of Russia's far-eastern Kamchatka peninsula three years ago and was presumed dead. Comments to the media from the Russian crew have been minimal.

Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia's Investigative Committee, has admitted for the first time that the Arctic Sea may have had a secret cargo on board other than the stated load of timber. Authorities claim that an initial search of the ship revealed nothing untoward, but the ship is headed to the Black Sea port of Novorossisk for a thorough inspection. Before loading the timber, the Arctic Sea had being undergoing repairs in Kaliningrad, a notorious hotspot for organised crime, drugs and arms-smuggling.

This will do nothing to please the conspiracy theorists, who claim that the reason that the Russian Navy put so much effort into tracking down a ship with such an ostensibly low-value cargo suggests they were aware all along that it contained an important and sensitive secret cargo.

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Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 01:47 am
Sounds like the Russian mafia.
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Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 04:11 am

Attempted export of soviet fissile materials?
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 30 Aug, 2009 08:31 am
Well, seems like such, I suppose.

AP reports that the Arctic Sea's crewmen are home after being questioned for a couple of days by the Russian secret service:

Posted: Aug 30, 2009 12:30 PM
Updated: Aug 30, 2009 1:10 PM

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian media are reporting that Arctic Sea crew members have returned home after being held in Moscow for questioning about the freighter's mysterious voyage.

NTV television says 11 crewmen arrived Saturday in the northern city of Arkhangelsk. It aired footage Sunday of reunions with relatives on a railroad platform.

State-run Channel One and Vesti-24 offered similar reports but did not say how many crewmen returned. Russian investigators did not immediately comment.

Murky information about the Arctic Sea's apparent two-week disappearance has sparked speculation that it was carrying clandestine cargo. Authorities have charged eight men they claim hijacked the ship.

Four of the 15 crewmen remain aboard the ship as it's towed to Russia.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 03:17 pm
And the mystery continues ...

The Times (UK): Artic Sea 'arms ship' has been cruising off West African coast
The mystery of the hijacked cargo ship allegedly carrying missiles to Iran deepened yesterday when it emerged that, far from limping back to a Russian port as the Kremlin had claimed, the vessel had been cruising around the Canary Islands.

In the latest twist to a plot featuring clandestine weapons, secret agents and pirates, Russia announced that the Arctic Sea was once again thousands of miles from where she was meant to be.

The Moscow Times: Authorities To Release Arctic Sea After Probe
Investigators gave few details about their activities on the Arctic Sea since the Navy announced the seizure of the ship and eight suspected hijackers on Aug. 17. Investigators said Maltese maritime and police officials had helped examine the ship and Spanish officials would assist in its handover to its owner on Thursday or Friday at the Canary Islands port of Las Palmas. Investigators earlier said the Arctic Sea was en route to the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk and would be thoroughly examined once it docked there.
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 07:11 am
@Walter Hinteler,
But, perhaps, it is worth departing from emotions and taking a view of the facts. They explain the essence of the matter more expressive than something other.

Firstly, the practical international standards provide for obligatory observance of navigation rules. A vessel may not put out to sea if it is technically defective. And if this is the case, then all the life-support systems of the Arctic Sea were in working condition. The ship just could not have put to sea, if communication, navigation, electrical equipment and other systems were not functioning.

That is why the "radiosilence mode" of the Arctic Sea could begin only in consequence of "external" factors influence. And these factors are more probably of a criminal nature. Because it is no mere chance that the captain of the ship Sergey Zaretsky could send only one SMS-message, the content of which is yet more proof that the sender’s actions were controlled.

Secondly, any ship putting out to sea undergoes obligatory customs, border and other kinds of control. The party making such actions, in case of detection of smuggled and other nondeclared goods is obliged to immediately notify the parties owning the goods and its carrier. Furthermore, measures provided by international regulatory legal acts should be taken.

However Finland did not notify the Russian party of the Arctic Sea crew’s arrest or smuggled goods on shipboard. That is why there is every reason to believe that the cargo was completely corresponding to the declared consignment notes, and there were no "classified materials" transported by the crew. The version of a "classified goods" falls apart at the seams in this case too.

Thirdly, there is a standard world practice according to which in force-majeure circumstances a ship owner is obliged to immediately notify public authorities in conformity with applicable rules.

But it was not done. This brings up just questions: "Why the ship-owner, whom the Arctic Sea belonged, did not find it necessary to inform the Russian party of the above circumstances? What are motives of his behavior? Whom was he lead by?" There remains a lot of questions, but investigation will give answers to them. However it is evident that in this situation the crew became hostage of its owners or their protectors. Of those, who are trying now to shift the blame for what has happened onto the Russian authorities and crew.

Fourthly, according to working rules of the maritime law, any party, discovered a lost vessel or a vessel in distress, is obliged to render all necessary assistance in these cases and to inform the party owning the transport.

And not all is plain sailing in this question as well. It perplexes that the sailing near the Arctic Sea vessels under the flags of Sweden, France, Great Britain and other states did not wish to interfere in this situation settlement.

NATO combat ships’ "position of inaction" in relation to transportation of "secret and insecure", according to some information agencies, materials also remains unclear. Otherwise, how can be considered the fact that a ship, allegedly transporting "dangerous materials", "weapon" and other "secret materials", was sailing to a point of its destination without hindrance.

And references to possible lack of information about nature of goods of the leading world powers intelligence services, as well as to impossibility to establish the Arctic Sea’s location are at least unfounded and invite a number of questions.

Fifthly, according to the accepted rules, any civil vessel has a name or a certain number. Number is changed in accordance with established procedure, in specially designated areas.
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