Arctic Sea: Russian investigators still aboard

The captain and three crew members were still on board the MV Arctic Sea 30 October, along with Russian investigators. The ship berthed, 14 nautical miles east of Marsaxlokk, Valetta, Malta. The ship berthed early yesterday morning and not as expected last night. The ship had some steering gear problems which resulted in a slight delay in towing. “As we did not want the towing to take place in pitch darkness, we decided to wait an extra day,” said John Gatt, chairman of the National Maritime Security Committee.

The MV Arctic Sea is seen berthed in Senglea


$3.5 million ransom for Malta-flagged Ariana

"We are just waiting for the money," said pirate Hassan of Haradheere. MV Ariana, IMO number :8014150, was seized on May 2 north of Madagascar en route to the Middle East from Brazil with 24 Ukrainian crew aboard. All Oceans shipping in Greece is the beneficial owner.

Arctic Sea: Russian naval personnel disembarked

The Arctic Sea entered the port of Valletta the evening of 29 October and has been allocated a berth at Boiler Wharf. The ship was delivered back to its owners outside Maltese territorial waters in the afternoon.

The ship arrived, 28 October at 0700 hours, outside territorial waters under the tow of a Russian naval tug. The ship was handed over 29 October at 1330 hours by the Russian authorities to the owner. Soon after the tow was transferred from the Russian naval tug to the commercial tug boat Mari, operated by Tug Malta, and the Russian naval personnel disembarked from the ship.

Despite repeated promises to take it into port, the Russian Navy had held the Arctic Sea in international waters since seizing it from suspected pirates on August 17 off Cape Verde near West Africa, 2,500 miles (4,000km) off course.

The ship had been under guard by two Russian warships since then. The captain and three crew members, who are all Russian, had been on board throughout the voyage. It is unclear whether they will be free to return home to the Russian port of Archangel or be taken to Moscow for questioning.

The Moscow Basmanny District Court has extended the arrest of the suspected assailants of the Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea until 18 February at the request of the Russian Prosecutor General Office’s Investigation Committee. “The judge extended custody of Andrei Lunev and Vitaly Lepin for three months and 29 days, until 18 February,” said Moscow City Court press secretary Anna Usachyova on16 October. A similar decision was made for another six suspects earlier.


Arctic Sea: crew fought Estonian boarders?

Malta's Civil Protection Department personnel boarded the Maltese-flagged vessel 14 nautical miles off Malta on October 28. Members of the crew had resisted the hijackers [sic] and were injured. In fact, one had his teeth broken in a fight, according to accounts given to people who boarded the Arctic Sea.

The crew members said they were locked in their cabins until they were freed by the Russian navy in Cape Verde. The hijackers apparently also destroyed the long distance communication equipment and took the ship’s black box.

Earlier it was reported the captain of the Arctic Sea freighter contacted the ship’s operating company September 17 for the first time since the ship mysteriously disappeared in July.

The captain made a brief call to Solchart Arkhangelsk Ltd.’s office on his cell phone, a company spokesman said.

“He said the rest of the crew on the ship is all fine,” the spokesman told Interfax.

Earlier reports stated that sailors were able to communicate with the relatives by mobile phones – each talk 1-2 minutes, SMS-messages. But , Russian authorities, just took from sailors their sim-cards and cutted them off any communication.

“The fact that the military are on board plays no role in this case," Viktor Matveev, the director of Solchart Management which owns the Arctic Sea, told Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda on September 22. On September 24, Dmitri Bartenev , a rhib pilgrim picked up by the Arctic Sea on 24 July said that on 17 August, the Russian naval frigate, the Ladny, came alongside. The Arctic Sea's crew had spotted the heavily armed vessel two days previously and the crew broke out the vodka again. "We spent the last two nights on board getting drunk with the crew." On September 24, the remaining crew aboard (master, chief and 2 engineers) were reported "on the verge of a breakdown."


Arctic Sea: escorted by AFM P-61 off Malta

The Arctic Sea is currently just off Malta's territorial waters escorted by a Maltese patrol boat, It is to be inspected by the Maltese authorities before being allowed into Malta.

The handover to its Finnish [sic] owners is expected to take place before the ship enters Grand Harbour, possibly tomorrow.


Arctic Sea: Investigators and 11 Navy crew aboard

At the moment [26 October] there are four crew members on board The Arctic Sea with investigators and eleven sailors from the Russian Guided Missile warship "Ladny" - Krivak I Class Frigate. The vessel was flying the Maltese flag and had 15 Russian crew members on board when it departed from the Finnish port of Jacobstad on the 22nd of July.


Arctic Sea: Aquaship - the Riga connection

Aquaship, was still considered the owner of the Arctic Sea until late 2008, when Solchart acquired the freighter and four sister ships. Likewise, Aquaship listed these ships on its Web site as part of its own fleet until the end of July.

Aquaship ltd. 8b, Gunara Astras str., Riga, LV-1082, Latvia / Phone: +371 7035000 / E-mail: aquaship@ship.lv
"The origins of AQUASHIP Ltd. date back to early 1990 when the first independent marine companies were established involved in operation of all-type vessels on the post-soviet areas. Since then AQUASHIP has been constantly upgrading its services for purpose to meet the last customers requirements and orders."


Arctic Sea: Union pleads for those onboard

The Solchart site carries a plea said to be from a trade union
Four crew members – Master, Chief Engineer, Second Engineer and Bosun remain on board. Trade Union and relatives do not have connection with the remaining seafarers, and we are very concerned about the future of our brothers. Last week in the programme “Man and right” family saw Master Zaretskiy. He looked ill and exhausted.


Arctic Sea: Carry on swashbucklers

Victor Matveev, Managing Director, CEO, Solchart argues:
"We are attaining good financial figures that allow us to consider further development of the Company’s activity notwithstanding colossal losses that our daughter Company Arctic Sea Ltd Malta is presently encountering. The Russian union claims: "Its captain and three crewmembers are on board. There are no investigators there," "The tow ship quit the bulk carrier and now it is only accompanied by the Russian frigate Ladny.


Arctic Sea: more on the 'hijackers'

A leaflet outside a local supermarket in Estonia advertising security work in Spain led to a work contract, vague and written in English. The leaflet attracted ethnic Russians in Estonia, ordinary layabouts, petty criminals and heavy drinkers, six friends and acquaintances, stateless men holding "gray passports." Born in Estonia, all but one never met the tough requirements for Estonian citizenship, part of a lost generation of former Soviets who unprepared to make it. "No one needs us," a girlfriend, one of three pictured, says. "Estonia isn't going to fight for them, and Russia doesn't need them. The fact that we were born here and our mother was born here doesn't matter to anyone."

Solchart Archangelsk director and shareholder Nikolai Karpenkov gives his email address


Hansa India: Boarded by US Marines?

French sources say [or assume] that the forbidden UN-sanctioned ammunition was found in the Gulf of Suez aboard the Iranian charter Hansa India, by US Marines. That would be [one assumes] Battalion Landing Team 3/2 with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).


Hansa India: UK bans all commerce with IRISL

The UK Treasury on Oct. 12 ordered financial services companies to cease all commercial relations with the Iranian ocean carrier IRISL amid concerns it has been involved in helping Tehran to develop nuclear weapons. The Treasury's announcement follows a report by German magazine Der Spiegel that a major arms consignment was confiscated from the IRISL-chartered Hansa India at Malta Freeport on Friday. The 3,425-TEU vessel was reported to be en route to Syria. [Malta reports:The cargo consisted of a large consignment of cartridge cases and copper discs.]

The order, issued under the Counter Terrorism Act 2008, also applies to Iran's Bank Mellat.

"Vessels of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines have transported goods for both Iran's ballistic missile and nuclear programmes," the Treasury said in a statement.

"Financial and credit institutions will no longer be able to enter into new transactions or business relationships with these entities nor to continue with existing transactions or business relationships unless they are licensed" by the Treasury.

Iran's Bank Mellat declared the UK Treasury's order to impose conditional restriction on the bank's direct transactions with British financial institutions will not lead to freeze of Bank Mellat's assets in the European country.

The decision means further direct financial transactions between Bank Mellat and UK institutions are legal if they are carried out under more supervision and specific condition, does not include indirect financial exchanges of the bank and it does not involve restriction on trade companies and commercial institutions linked to Bank Mellat.


Iranian charter carried ammunition in Gulf of Suez

US soldiers entered the freighter Hansa India in the Gulf of Suez at the beginning of October and discovered seven containers full of 7.62 millimeter ammunition suitable for Kalashnikov rifles. An eighth container was full of cartridges suitable for the manufacture of additional rounds. The incident is particularly awkward for Berlin as the Hansa India is registered to the Hamburg-based shipping company Leonhardt & Blumberg.

Investigators suspect that the arms were part of an Iranian shipment bound for either the Syrian army or for Hezbollah, the militant Islamist group. US officials have pointed out that the delivery is in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747, which prohibits arms shipments either into or out of Iran.

According to Leonhardt & Blumberg, the 243-meter-long (297-foot-long) ship has for years been under charter to the state-owned shipping company Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. Two US warships halted the Hansa India after receiving a tip-off from intelligence services.

Following an intervention by the German government, the US allowed the ship to continue on to its destination in Malta, where the containers were secured.

IMO number : 9070967
Call Sign : DPTT
Gross tonnage : 37563
Type of ship : Container Ship
Year of build : 1994
Flag : Germany
Status of ship : In Service


Arctic Sea: Jon Jin 2: Chendin-2: Chon Ji 2

sister vessel to North Korean bulker
The Russian Investigative Committee website shows the Arctic Sea with markings for the North Korean vessel Jon Jin 2. Previously reported from Russian sources as Chendin-2 and Chon Ji 2.

>The ministry said that, when the ship was intercepted, its captain claimed it was the North Korean vessel Chendin-2, and was headed from Havana to Sierra Leone with a cargo of palm wood."

Ex Names: ex-Ingenious 91 C.FILYOS - 95 VERILY - 04 JON JIN 2
Notes: B-26 type.
Sister/Similar Ships: Sisters: DEVIGLORYI [8108705] (Pa) ex-Carrianna Primrose; LAURADA (Ma) ex-Carrianna Peony

IMO Number: 8018912 Flag: Democratic People`s Republic of Korea Builder:Country: Britain and British Dependencies Company: A & PYear: 1982 Type: Bulk carrier Sequence: MC4MFN Hull Form: H1 Tonnage:Gross Tonnage: 15,384 tons Deadweight: 26,450 tonnes Dimensions: 181.29×22.86×10.38m (594.78×75.00×34.06ft) Speed: 14.5kt Machinery:Screw Type: Single Screw Engine Type: Motor vessel Company: Sulzer Ex Names: ex-Ingenious Notes: B-26 type.Sister/Similar Ships: Sisters: DEVIGLORYI [8108705] (Pa) ex-Carrianna Primrose; LAURADA (Ma) ex-Carrianna Peony


Arctic Sea: the return of Jon Jin 2

Both the name and an identification number painted on the Arctic Sea's stern belong to a North Korean bulk carrier that was docked in Angola at the time, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, but it offered no further explanation.
Jon Jin 2
Name of ship : JON JIN 2
IMO number : 8018912
Call Sign : HMBI
Gross tonnage : 15384
Type of ship : Bulk Carrier
Year of build : 1982
Flag : Korea Democratic Republic

Arctic Sea: Exciting expense account

Victor Matveev, CEO of the presumptive manager of the Arctic Sea, has posted an exciting expense account for this adventure.

Item: " Travelling costs and expenses of Mr. Nikolay Chemakin and Mr. Nikolay Karpenkov to Las Palmas, following request from representatives of the State Party, amounting to €3,672;"
...When the vessel was 'found,'
"Solchart Archangelsk director and shareholder Nikolai Karpenkov was making preparations in his office to send a new crew to the ship. However, he was still waiting for the go-ahead from the Russian Navy.

So why didn’t Karpenkov insist that the ship should have proceeded to the nearest port after the hijacking that took place in Swedish waters.
“The captain said that the ship was not damaged. We did not suspect that the hijackers were still on board.”

...When suspicions about the cargo arose:
"There couldn't have been hidden weapons on board by definition," says Nikolai Chemakin, the ship's technical superintendent, pointing to a picture hanging on the wall of the Arctic Sea loaded with timber. "Look, there is nowhere to hide such things."


Arctic Sea: Algeria refuses port call

Algeria had refused to let the Arctic Sea pass into its territorial waters.
"The cargo being carried by the Arctic Sea was destined for an Algerian customer, and we offered to tug the vessel to the Algerian port of Bejaia to hand the ship over to its owner and deliver the cargo to its recipient," the Investigative Committee at the Russian Prosecutor General's Office said, adding that no reasons had been given for the refusal.
Finnish sources found the Arctic Sea again on the list of arrivals at the Port of Bejaïa in Algeria for 4 October, but then deleted from the list.

"The Arctic Sea vessel escorted by a tugboat and the Ladny patrol ship is currently anchored off Gibraltar in the Mediterranean."


Arctic Sea: sitting 60 miles east of Gibraltar

Victor Matveyev, the manager of the vessel Arctic Sea claims that his phantom tramp is not moving anywhere, in position near Bejaia, Algeria, its original destination.

"The situation is more than strange and complicated. The cargo ship is sitting for days now 60 miles east of Gibraltar,”

"Therefore, whilst the Owner reserves the right to claim for losses or damages as a result of any action to its prejudice, and also in respect of the costs it will incur in respect of the Vessel and any loss of actual, potential and future earnings,"


Arctic Sea: hiding the S300 Missiles Aboard

Naval S300
A reporter has visited a ship similar to the Finnish-built Arctic Sea, to decide if it could have carried Russian S300 missiles destined for Iran: "The only feasible place is the ballast tanks, so I squeezed through a manhole and climbed into one of them to take a look.

Access to all these dark, damp areas is through an oval hole about 80cm (31 inches) at its widest.

The space beneath is fairly generous but manoeuvring a long, thick missile in there would be impossible."

Actually, the S300 missile is 7 meters long in its fiberglass launcher/container (22.90 ft), and .76 m (2.49 ft) span. The Arctic Sea is 105.1 meters in length. How the ballast tanks are now configured in the phantom ship is unknown. Further, the fiberglass container is not difficult to duplicate and the missile is comprised of smaller components.

"Military experts do not rule out the possibility of on-site S-300 assembly from components allegedly supplied to Iran. "

In January 2008, "Esmaeil Kosari, deputy chairman of the parliamentary commission on national security and foreign policy, told Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency Sunday that Russia was already sending components for its formidable S-300PMU-1 system -- NATO designation SA-20 Gargoyle -- to the Islamic republic."

In May, 2009, "Russia's customs service said Thursday it uncovered a ring of active and retired military officers suspected of involvement in stealing millions of dollars worth of missile components and smuggling them out of Russia.

The Federal Customs Service said it has detained a dozen suspects and confiscated about 22 tons of missile components intended for smuggling.

It said that the criminal ring had smuggled parts of S-75, S-125, S-200 and S-300 air defense missile systems.

The customs agency said that the ring included Russian military officers on active duty along with some retirees and citizens of Belarus and Ukraine. It said the suspects were believed to work with senior officers of the military's air defense forces stationed in Russia's northwest, but would not give any names.
The latest capture of illegal weapons smuggling was reportedly only a part of a larger operation which has been going on for some time. Previously, Russian and other European customs had thwarted attempts to smuggle missile components for Latvia and "an unspecified Asian country", the Russian customs said."

The various methods the Russians are suspected of using to remove the missiles from the Arctic Sea in the Canaries would be applicable to oncarriage to Iran. Perhaps the missiles were transshipped by air in their containers or component parts as from Gran Canaria. Perhaps they were transshipped at sea as the 'evidence' was to a tanker (not a cargo vessel), the Iman. Tankers are the stuff of Iran's seaborne commerce.


Arctic Sea: It is all about Photographs

cargo offloaded to this tanker, Iman

Anton Surikov, a Russian security expert and former military intelligence officer, advances the theory that smugglers, with the backing of elements in Russia's security services, may have loaded ammunition and anti-tank missiles bound for Hizbollah in Lebanon, and four Kh-55 cruise missiles to be fitted to Sukhoi-24 bombers for Iran, on to the ship as it underwent repairs in Kaliningrad.

Mr Surikov says he believes that when the the ship was boarded in the dead of night on July 24 off Sweden, the attackers found the weapons cache, photographed it as evidence and left.

His scenario fits with initial reports conveyed by police in Sweden that the crew reported being attacked by about 10 men posing as Swedish policemen who searched the ship and departed in an inflatable dinghy. The photos were then shown, thinks Mr Surikov, to the UK and US security services - which arranged a second incursion as the Arctic Sea disappeared on August 1.

Nikolai Chemakin, the Arctic Sea's technical superintendent in Arkhangelsk has just returned from a trip to the Canary Islands, where Russian prosecutors investigating the ship refused to let him on board. "Something changed when he got there and we don't know why," says Captain Ivan Boyko, deputy head of Solchart Arkhangelsk, an offshoot of the Russian-controlled Finnish company that operates the Arctic Sea,. "I'm not God so I don't know what happened but I'm sure our men could not have been involved in shipping weapons." Solchart sent a Russian from Arkhangelsk to investigate the Russians from Arkhangelsk onboard.


Arctic Sea: evidence includes documents

Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on 01 October: "We are taking all necessary measures to return the vessel to its owner, and to provide support to conclude its commercial delivery in line with the sea freight contract."

However, he said the vessel was slightly damaged as a result of its capture.

"Some navigation equipment was put out of action. Repairs must be carried out. This damage does not influence the safety of towing the Arctic Sea," he said. The Arctic Sea is apparently being towed by a tug. The Tanker Iman routinely travels with Rescue Tug SB-36.

A military-diplomatic source in Madrid has said the evidence unloaded from the Arctic Sea included documents which could provide clues on the Arctic Sea's mission.

"All the documents which could shed light on the investigation were loaded onto the Black Sea Fleet tanker ship Iman," the source was quoted as saying. The convoy is expected at Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk mid-October.


Iran's Thondar missile boats

China reportedly sold Iran between 10 and 40 Houdong missile boats, officially named Thondar in Iranian service and possibly more than 80 C-802 anti-ship cruise missiles during the mid-1990s. In November 1996, Iran conducted land, sea and air war games in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and successfully test-fired a C-802 anti-ship cruise missile from one of its Houdong patrol boats. The United States sought to pressure China over these sales and their potentially destabilizing character. The Chinese government agreed to US requests in 1998 to halt further C-802 sales. Circumventing this restriction, Iran obtained a license to produce the weapons, primarily for its Thondar missile boats.