EU official: Arctic Sea also attacked off Portugal
Website suggests ship had “secret cargo”
Maritime officials of the European Union believe that the missing cargo ship, the Arctic Sea, may have been hijacked twice. An anonymous official source told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph that in addition to being hijacked off the coast of Sweden, the vessel was also seized off Portugal at the end of July.
The official said that the ship had reported an attack by “pirates” in Portuguese waters.
The source would not reveal further details because of the ongoing investigation.
Previously, the British Coastguard has said that the hijackers were probably on board when the ship passed through the English Channel. The Coastguard said that it had received a message from the ship which seemed suspicious.
Viktor Matvejev, the director of the shipping line that operates the Arctic Sea, told Reuters News Agency on Thursday that he believes that the hijackers are still on board.
The ship is believed to have been briefly hijacked in the Baltic Sea on July 24th. After the incident, the Arctic Sea proceeded on its voyage to Algeria, but later it disappeared without a trace.
Solchart Archangelsk, the Russian company which recruited the ship’s present crew, was last in contact with the vessel on August 1st.
The case of the missing Arctic Sea has lately attracted extensive media attention in Russia. Mikhail Voitenko, editor-in-chief of the Maritime Bulletin website, believes that the disappearance of the ship is linked with a “secret cargo” on board.
“I believe that a special cargo of some kind was brought on board in the harbour. I’m not saying that it was illegal, but that it was, specifically, secret”, Voitenko said to Helsingin Sanomat.
Solchart Arkhangelsk director Nikolai Karpenkov dismisses claims of a secret cargo as “a complete lie”.
In any event, the additional claim has only whetted the appetite of those speculating on the reasons for the ship's bizarre behaviour and disappearance. For some time, this story was very much a "local matter" for the Swedish and Finnish media, but now the story has broken in a big way and is being carried by media outlets all over the world.
More on this subject:
Missing Arctic Sea cargo vessel pursued by rumours and Russian Navy