Arctic Sea docks in Kotka
NBI to examine vessel
The Arctic Sea, a Finnnish-owned Maltese-registered freight vessel, which was the centre of a bizarre hijack drama earlier this year, arrived in the Mussalo harbour in Kotka late Wednesday night, with a load of 4,200 tonnes of lime from the south of France.
Helsingin Sanomat was allowed to board the ship soon after midnight.
There were no outward signs on the ship of the hijacking. The ship’s current captain Mikhail Kotyanin said that he had been in contact with the previous captain in Malta for two days, but that nothing was spoken about the piracy incident. The only sign of the hijacking were the repairmen who boarded the vessel in Malta to fix the ship’s radio equipment.
According to Sergei Kurashin, the operator of the Finnish Solchart Management shipping line, the ship will continue to be unloaded until Monday.
After that, the Arctic Sea will complete the circle, returning to the port of Pietarsaari, where it will pick up a load of sawn timber, which it is to take to Algeria.
It was on such a voyage in July that the ship was commandeered by a group of eight armed men in a rubber boat off the Swedish coast. The hijackers held the ship for nearly a month, until they were overpowered by the Russian navy off Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa.
While it is docked in Finland, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) plan to examine the vessel, says Rabbe von Hertzen, who has headed the NBI’s investigation in the matter
The ship has already been examined by Russian, Maltese, and Algerian officials, none of whom found traces of any suspicious material or high radiation levels.
Kai Naumanen, CEO of Rets Timber, which provided the cargo for the previous trip, and the new one, says that the hijackers never touched the cargo.
Solchart Management CEO Viktro Matvejev says that the only possible hiding place on the ship for rumoured contraband would have been the ballast tanks, which were full of water.
During the hijacking, the Arctic Sea had a different crew. The members are now back home in Archangel.
The crew said that the hijackers had kept them locked inside their cabins. They also constantly wore masks and gloves.
One of the sailors was put in a harness and forced to paint a new name on the hull, indicating that the ship was a North Korean vessel, the Jon Jin 2.
The crew members said that they had been beaten, and that the hijackers staged a mock execution.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Missing Arctic Sea cargo vessel pursued by rumours and Russian Navy (14.8.2009)
Hijacked freighter Arctic Sea handed back to Finnish owners (30.10.2009)
Arctic Sea: Freed Russian seamen questioned in remand prison (21.8.2009)
Freight vessel of Finnish shipping line targeted by mystery pirates in Swedish waters (31.7.2009)
Finland’s Central Criminal Police to interrogate Arctic Sea suspects in Moscow (17.12.2009)
Russian inspectors: Arctic Sea only carried timber cargo (9.9.2009)