Friday, August 28, 2009

The bizarre saga of the Arctic Sea 

Not another climate post, but while we've been looking elsewhere the story of the "missing" Russian cargo ship Arctic Sea has gotten even more bizarre:

Remember the missing cargo ship that had all of Europe in an uproar earlier this month? Turns out it may never have been missing after all:

President Medvedev sent the Russian Navy to find the Arctic Sea after it apparently disappeared while passing through the English Channel en route to Algeria from Finland. However, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow now says that Russian and international agencies had monitored the ship throughout its strange three-week voyage.

“Of course, the dry cargo carrier with a displacement of more than 7,000 tonnes was never missing. Its movement was being followed and its co-ordinates were being reported from several sources, including our foreign partners,” the ministry said.

This might have been something they could have shared with the other half dozen navies searching for the vessel.

One is tempted to chalk this ex post facto claim that the ship had not been lost to Russian ego, which over the years has moved Moscow to claim that intelligence and competence were behind no end of stupid and incompetent things. But then why this?:
The saga also took a bizarre new twist when the ministry disclosed that the ship’s captain had tried to pass off the Arctic Sea as a North Korean vessel when it was intercepted by the Russian Navy. This is the first time that investigators have implicated the crew in the mystery.

FP Passport's Joshua Keating asks the right question: "Who gets caught and then claims to be from North Korea???"


By Anonymous Joe, at Fri Aug 28, 03:11:00 PM:

Of course the ship was never missing – military satellites can read car license plates from space, and they sure can find a ship if they want to. The statement from the ministry also says “its co-ordinates were being reported from several sources, including our foreign partners,” so the real question is: Why did the US, the Brits and the French, who have plenty of assets in the east Atlantic, wait for the Russians to get a ship out of the Black Sea?  

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