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.
Finnish ship hijacked off Swedish coast
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).
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.