Thursday, August 27, 2009

what really happened to the arctic sea?

photo found multiple places online, sorry i don't know whose it really is.

in recent weeks, i've found the story of the supposed pirate attack on the finnish-owned, maltese-flagged vessel arctic sea a compelling one. initially, it was interesting because it appeared to be a pirate attack in european waters and the first of its kind in decades.

as the story goes, the ship left finland july 23, loaded with timber. the next day, the ship reported that a group of men, presenting themselves as swedish police, boarded the ship in the baltic sea between finland and sweden. strangely, the only ones they notified of this were the russian embassy in finland, tho' at some point the swedish police were involved. apparently, some 12 hours later, the men left the vessel and it continued on its way. the next report of it was that it sailed through the busy english channel, still hijacked, tho' the story gets a bit hazy.

after that, they switched off their AIS system (an international electronic tracking system that all merchant ships have (go here to see ships live, right now, as we "speak")) and disappeared for more than two weeks, finally resurfacing 200 nautical miles from the cape verde islands off the coast of west africa. a bit far from her destination port in algeria. the russian navy rushed in, "rescued" the russian crew that was onboard and arrested 8 alleged hijackers, most of whom were from estonia, and spirited them off to moscow. word has it that the captain stayed onboard with russian navy personnel and that they are sailing the vessel and its cargo towards the black sea.

the russian navy's keen interest in the case, as well as grumblings from NATO sources, lead one to believe that there was more than a cargo of timber onboard. before loading the timber at the port in finland, the ship spent two weeks in kaliningrad, that important little baltic port that russia kept after the disintegration of the soviet union. i've read rumors of everything from drugs to guns to cruise missiles to nukes. but, i suppose, like with the kursk submarine case a number of years ago, we'll never really know the truth. but it does set the imagination on overdrive. i could definitely see constructing a james bond plotline out of this one.

* * *


took this screenshot of all of the ships in "my" area on that marine traffic website. each of those little colored ship-shaped bits is a ship and if you hover over it (on the site, not on my screenshot), you'll learn the name and how fast she's currently sailing. how cool is that? why didn't i know about this before? it's a very cool website, but i can see that there is no data available in the pirate-infested waters off east africa and through the malacca straits. very smart thinking, that. wouldn't want to assist the pirates. go and check it out, it's really quite fun to realize exactly how many ships are out there. be sure to check out the english channel, it's really crowded.

17 comments:

heidikins said...

I think this post is about 18 different kinds of awesome. Pirates, charts, geographic satellite images, etc....LOVE!

xox

Bill Stankus said...

Terrific posting. The global shipping info is fantastic, what a busy place!

As the story about the Arctic Sea unfolds ... police searching for something and probably not finding "it", the ship going dark, the aggressiveness of the Russians ... you do have to wonder what was hidden within the ship.

Thanks for writing about this - very timely and very interesting.

ADRIAN said...

Probably nothing to worry about. Be a load of plutonium for the middle east!Great post, thanks.

rxBambi said...

That is SO COOL! I mean the map thingie, not the pirate thingie. I'm at work and played on it for a while. I really want to be on the Scottish Viking...or maybe the Excelsior or Seaborne Legend. It's kinda cool (nerdy?) to look at all these ships and think about who is on them, where they are going, what adventures they are having... all while I'm sitting here in the pharmacy a world away in a little mid-western town...
*sigh*
thanks for this post. Very cool.

Hopefully it wasn't a load of plutonium headed for some terrorists...

rxBambi said...

I was just playing some more and find it odd that there isn't more around the Florida keys... and all of the Caribbean. Because of the pirates you think?

Cyndy said...

It certainly is a mystery, no? I share you cynicism, knowing that much more must have been going on. Probably no accident they went towards pirated waters where they could not be traced by perhaps other means. The globe is warming up in more ways than one...

Ju said...

Aha, I've been reading your tweets for weeks and it all makes sense now.
I love the fact that you your posts are so random ( in a good way) you know how to keep us hooked.

Ju:D

Kim said...

Awesome story. Can definitely see it as a plot for a James Bond story. I'm glad that the marine tracking program doesn't work for the South China Sea - the stories from here are scary.

Cheers
Kim

Rainysoul said...

That website is quite cool...its like google maps for boats! Now some day when I get to go on a cruise, I can see where I am! :)

Dorte said...

What an interesting post - agree it has 007 potential :-)
Have just checked out the website - so cool. I live in Málaga and this is quite a busy stretch too!

I_am_Tulsa said...

Wow! Interesting "story/news" and OMG so much traffic in the seas!
Oh, and about the sea urchins! Have you tried them before? I can't stand the bottled type (fishy) but if you can go to a sushi restaurant that has the really fresh kind, you could be pleasantly surprised...if you like creamy and nutty flavors. ;-)
But I must admit that even in Japan we often talk about how "courageous" the first person to ever crack open and eat a sea urchin must have been!
Personally, eating sea cucumbers puts me off much much more...eewww...lol

Lynne said...

I got all excited! I can see Ben's yacht, I thought. then I remembered... he's in those pirate infested waters off the West coast of Africa. damn.
But I can see the logic in not making their position known.

Mariana Soffer said...

I think theh watch to many pirates movies, specially the last trilogy
that jonny deep made, but there was also involve new technology
modernity, with the new tracking systems in place, and maybe old
school pirates are just not ready to handle that pretty well

take care

Bluebird said...

Thank you for the marinetraffic.com info! Its so cool. My dad and I are sailors and like to look for our favorite boats in nyc waters since i was little. I found three that i recognized on the site and tracked them!

Char said...

huh - what? LOL no, I get it really but yes, definitely James Bond.

bored.mind said...

amazing site, that boat tracking thingie. im having so much fun. thanks for sharing this julochka! :)

paris parfait said...

I hope they make a film out of this intriguing story - get writing! - and that the truth is ultimately revealed.