Missing Arctic Sea cargo vessel pursued by rumours and Russian Navy
Russian Defence Ministry denies following ship near Gibraltar
The Russian Navy is looking for the missing freighter, the M/S Arctic Sea. In spite of an intense search, initiated under the orders of President Dmitri Medvedev, the 98-metre-long vessel, which disappeared while en route from Finland to Algeria, remains missing.
On Thursday, there were reports of sightings of ships resembling the Arctic Sea in the harbour of San Sebastian in the north of Spain, and in the Straits of Gibraltar, with a Russian Navy frigate in pursuit.
Both reports proved false.
In addition to Russia, officials in Malta, where the Arctic Sea is registered, are also trying to track down the ship.
The ship is owned by a Finnish company, which is run by the same Russian men who own Solchart Management, which manages its cargo operations.
The primary owner of the ship is the Maltese-registered company “Arctic Sea”. According to the Maltese trade registry, the company belongs to the Finnish company White Sea, whose CEO and main owner is Viktor Matvejev, a Russian citizen living in Finland.
According to the Finnish Trade Registry, he holds 70 per cent of the company’s shares. The rest are owned by two other Russian men living in Finland.
Matvejev is also the primary owner and CEO of Solchart Management.
Minister of the Interior Anne Holmlund (Nat. Coalition Party) told Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is closely monitoring developments through its international channels.
“They [the NBI] keep me up to date. The situation involves many countries in one way or another, and it also touches upon Finland”, Holmlund said.
Maltese officials have also visited Finland to collect information on the affair gathered by the NBI. The NBI has also helped at least the Swedish police, who are investigating the alleged hijacking of the Arctic Sea in Swedish waters last month.
Maria Lönegård, the head of the investigation at the Swedish police, say that the shipping line has been cooperative.
“We received the crew’s accounts of the events from the shipping line in writing. We also received pictures of their injuries. There were bruises and detached teeth.”
Viktor Matvejev told Reuters News Agency on Thursday that he believes that the hijackers are still on the ship. Helsingin Sanomat was not able to reach Matvejev.
Nikolai Karpenkov, the director of Solchart Arkhangelsk, which recruited the crew for the ship, did not want to speculate on the fate of the vessel.
Karpenkov’s last contact with the vessel was on August 1st. At that time the captain said that everything was all right, and that the ship was continuing on its way to Algeria.
The Russian security police FSB conducted an investigation in the offices of Solchart Arkhangelsk. Karpenkov was not surprised.
“Although the ship is registered in Malta, and the company is a Finnish company, the vessel has 15 Russians on board”, Karpenkov says.
More on this subject:
EU official: Arctic Sea also attacked off Portugal
Previously in HS International Edition:
Director of shipping line: Arctic Sea probably hijacked (13.8.2009)
Still no sign of Arctic Sea in Algerian port (12.8.2009)
Stora Enso has EUR 1.3 million worth of timber in missing ship Arctic Sea (10.8.2009)
Where are you, Arctic Sea? (9.8.2009)
Location of "hijacked" Arctic Sea freighter a mystery (7.8.2009)