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."

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