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Mystery Deepens Over Disppearance of Russian Ship
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HardTranceProd
This is really fishy....

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090813...a_ship_hijacked

quote:

MOSCOW (Reuters) The mystery surrounding a missing merchant ship deepened Thursday with the vessel's operator suggesting piracy and maritime experts suspecting foul play or even a secret cargo.

The Kremlin ordered Russian warships to join the hunt for the 4,000-tonne, 98-meter bulk carrier Arctic Sea, whose fate has baffled maritime authorities across Europe and North Africa.

The Maltese-registered vessel, carrying a $1.3-million cargo of timber, was supposed to have docked on August 4 in the Algerian port of Bejaia. It never arrived and is thought to have last made contact from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of France.

Mikhail Boytenko, editor of Russia's respected Sovfracht maritime journal, said that the ship may have been carrying a secret cargo unknown to the vessel's owners or operators.

"I think there was probably some sort of secret cargo on this vessel, not criminal but secret, and a third party of some sort did not want the cargo to get to another party so this highly sophisticated operation was cooked up," he told Reuters.

"I don't think that it was pirates who took this vessel but it really smells of some sort of state involvement. This is real cloak and dagger stuff, like a (John) le Carre novel."

A wave of piracy has hit shipping off Somalia, and an international naval force patrols its coast in an effort to protect merchant vessels. But a hijacking in European waters would be almost unprecedented in modern times.

"There has not been a so called incident of this kind around in Europe for a very long time," said Jim Davis, chairman of London-based industry group the International Maritime Industries Forum.

"It is a unique incident so far in European waters."

Piracy is rare in European waters with only a couple of recent incidents involving private yachts in the Mediterranean.

GHOST SHIP?

Concerns over the safety of the 15-member Russian crew were raised after the Malta Maritime Authority said it received reports the ship had been boarded by armed men in masks posing as anti-drugs police in Swedish waters on July 24.

Swedish authorities said none of its law enforcement agencies had been involved. Crew members were assaulted, tied, gagged and blindfolded and some were seriously hurt, Malta said.

Russia's navy denied a report on state television that the frigate Ladny was following a ship of a similar description in the Atlantic Ocean not far from Gibraltar.

"My view is that it is most likely that the vessel has been hijacked," Viktor Matveyev, director of the Finnish company Solchart, which operates the vessel, told Reuters. "We of course hope that everything is okay with the crew."

Swedish police said an investigator had spoken briefly to the crew on July 31 when the vessel was in the Atlantic after sailing through the Dover Strait between Britain and France. An electronic signal showing its location has been turned off.

The head of division at Sweden's national crime police, Maria Lonegard, told Reuters Television that the ship had behaved erratically in the Baltic Sea.

She played down fears of piracy, saying a written statement about events on the ship had been communicated from the vessel to the Finnish operator and then to Swedish police, she said.

Russia's domestic intelligence service, the FSB, was helping to investigate the mystery and its agents were at the offices of Solchart Arkhangelsk, which is listed as the ship's owner, Russian media reported.

Relatives of the crew appealed to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in an open letter and demanded a criminal investigation into the vessel's disappearance, Russian media reported, but have now stopped speaking publicly about the case.


Halcyon+On+On
IA! IA!
Dupz
I always remember one of my lecturers, back in 2001, mentioning that a ship can be used as a massive fertiliser bomb. Imagine, hijacking a cargo ship and loading it full of explosives and docking it in one of the busiest ports in world..

One hell of a terrorism strategy if you could pull it off..

You wouldnt put it past some of those crazy bastards having already thought of the idea.
atbell
quote:
Originally posted by Dupz
I always remember one of my lecturers, back in 2001, mentioning that a ship can be used as a massive fertiliser bomb. Imagine, hijacking a cargo ship and loading it full of explosives and docking it in one of the busiest ports in world..

One hell of a terrorism strategy if you could pull it off..

You wouldnt put it past some of those crazy bastards having already thought of the idea.


Nah, a fertilizer bomb would be a waste of time and effort.

LNG's are floating nukes, especially when empty. When I was working in shipping I found the security procedures for those ships which includes things like shutting down access to all bridges they go under, reading the fire department the length of the in land transit up cannals, and having a double ring of coast guard vessels as the ship nears the shore. Intese stuff.

The other real wory is that terrorists would use a ship to block a choke point in the international shipping lanes. As early as 2002 the straits of Gibralter were on high alert for hyjacking. The theory was that one hyjacked ship would crash into another to create a massive block in the middle of the narrow point. Other areas that are similarly unstable are the panama canal, the Suez, the straits of Hamurabi, and the straits of Malaca. All but the stratis of Malaca are secured pretty damn tight.

Piracy is not a new thing either. Around 7 attacks occur in an average week while I was working in shipping (2002-2005), most of them in the straits of Malaca area.

What is new is that this was a piracy in the 'Safe' European waters. Not to mention the reports that there were drugs on board leads me to beleive that this wasn't a piracy per-se as much as it was crooks beeing robbed.

Here's a possibility: Ship from Finland to Africa is rumoured to be carrying drugs. That tells me it's probably pills, MDMA by chance? What other drugs would go in that direction? Then the Russians are the first on the scene. What? Russians off the coast of West Africa? What are they doing there? Almost as if they knew something might be up, which might make sense because of the Russian presence in Finaland.

What I have no idea about is who would have tried to rob the Russian mob if that's what's going on. Who ever it was knew about the pay load which means they knew who they were screwing.

And these speculations are why I'm happy to be well away from the world of large volume international drug smuggling.
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