The Maritime Administration of Malta has issued the following announcement, which covers most bases:
“The Maritime Security Committee, with the assistance of the Maltese liaison team stationed in Helsinki since early August, have continued to closely monitor developments of the incident involving the mv Arctic Sea.
The Committee would like to clarify that the movements of the mv Arctic Sea were always known for several days, notwithstanding reports that the ship had “disappeared”. There was consensus amongst the investigating authorities of Finland, Malta and Sweden not to disclose any sensitive information in order not to jeopardise the life and safety of the persons on board and the integrity of the ship.
It was confirmed through Russian authorities that eight persons are being detained by them in connection with the incident. The nationality of the detained persons is confirmed to be Estonian, Latvian and Russian.
The Committee with the assistance of the office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in collaboration with the Swedish and Finnish authorities will continue with their detailed investigations into the case. The Committee is also in contact with the Russian authorities regarding the ongoing investigations.
Malta as the flag State administration is also endeavouring to ensure that the ship is granted a safe berth to allow for the required investigations into the seaworthiness of the ship.”
Finnish police are digging into the alleged ransom demand, Swedish authorities are exploring the actual hijacking and it would appear that the eight alleged hijackers will go on trial in Russia.
Deliberate confusion was sown during the affair with the probably unwitting help of Mihail Voytek’s Sovfracht website, the only source which seemed to have any information and which was widely quoted. Thus is explained the apparent AIS signal from the Bay of Biscay.
In the absence of information it was inevitable that a variety of conspiracy theories set sail without an anchor, ranging from the believable – some sort of commercial dispute – to the loony tune: Illicit transportation of a nuclear weapon. There’s probably an alien abduction in the mix somewhere.
In fact, much of the theorising over the possible motive for the hijacking concentrated on the fairly low value of the ship and her cargo. Had the same thing happened off the Horn of Africa or the Gulf of Aden the immediate, and probably correct assumption would have been piracy to hold the crew hostage, because living crew have value in that part of the world.
Whatever the actual story behind the highjacking, and we may never hear it, it is depressing that the conspiracy theorists largely ignored that possibility, indeed their conspiracies were founded on the assumption that, in European waters as opposed to those off Somalia, the lives of a crew have no value.
MAC leaves the reader to mull over how much a European crew is worth.