What is the Arctic Sea?
Mysterious happenings in the Baltic
a. A once-frozen body of water surrounding the North Pole.
b. A nondescript Maltese-flag timber carrier.
c. The scene of a half-baked extortion scheme.
d. All of the above.
Just when we thought the romance and mystery of the seas had succumbed to technology and instant messaging, events related to the MV Arctic Sea over the past several weeks have us all scratching our heads. The Russian-owned, Finnish-managed, Maltese-flagged ship was carrying timber from Finland (which has wood in excess) to Algeria (which has a shortage). It was supposedly boarded either by a group of men looking for assistance for their disabled vessel or by a group of men dressed as police looking for drugs. The crew was either beaten or they weren’t. The incident was reported either to the Russian authorities in St. Petersburg or to the Finnish authorities, or both. After it transited the English Channel, the ship’s electronic gear (AIS, LRIT, etc.) was either disabled or it was not. The hijackers either demanded a ransom for the safe return of the ship and crew or they did not. A Russian warship found the Arctic Sea near the Cape Verde Islands, or not (if the ship’s location was known all along). The crew and hijackers have been flown to Russia (except maybe for the master and a skeleton crew?). We have yet to learn whether any of the hijackers worn eye-patches or had peg legs or spoke Somalian. We are now being asked to believe that they were either eco-terrorists or Mossad agents. Possibly these questions will be answered in the coming weeks. More likely, though, the mystery of the Arctic Sea will join that of the Mary Celeste.