Hijacked freighter Arctic Sea handed back to Finnish owners
The Finnish-owned vessel M/V Arctic Sea, the Maltese-flagged freighter that was hijacked in late July, was expected to arrive at the port of Valletta in Malta on Thursday evening.
According to the Times of Malta, the Arctic Sea has been released to its Finnish owners. The Russian Prosecutor’s Office says that it handed the freighter over to authorities in Malta.
The Arctic Sea had left the Finnish port of Pietarsaari on July 22nd with a load of sawn timber. The destination was the Algerian port of Bejaïa.
On July 24th, a group of hijackers seized the ship on Sweden’s west coast, the crew reported later. After the hijackers had allegedly left the ship, the Arctic Sea proceeded on its way to Algeria, but disappeared from radar screens on July 29th off the south coast of England.
The vessel had been under Russian control since August when a Russian naval vessel took her over off the Cape Verde islands.
The Russian authorities were to have handed the Arctic Sea back to her Finnish owners in Las Palmas in the Canariy Islands in mid-September, but this was eventually cancelled after several delays.
Details of what actually went on, the hijackers' motivation, the crew-members' involvement, the possibility of another more valuable or sensitive clandestine cargo on board, and many other things have remained sketchy and prompted all manner of rumour, speculation and conspiracy theories, including some suggestions that the entire exercise was staged.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Arctic Sea re-appears on list of arrivals at Algerian port (28.9.2009)
Russian inspectors: Arctic Sea only carried timber cargo (9.9.2009)
Russian Navy rescues Arctic Sea crew near Cape Verde (18.8.2009)
Director of shipping line: Arctic Sea probably hijacked (13.8.2009)
Stora Enso has EUR 1.3 million worth of timber in missing ship Arctic Sea (10.8.2009)
Where are you, Arctic Sea? (11.8.2009)
MV Arctic Sea (Wikipedia)