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15 Aug, 2009 10:14

Russian Flying Dutchman gives a sign?

The missing freighter “Arctic Sea” may have been found. According to the Russian Maritime Bulletin, the ship's GPS device briefly started working again at 8:30am GMT Saturday, showing the vessel is in the Bay of Biscay.

The journal also says there's no way to know for sure if the positioning device is even onboard the ship.

Earlier, France’s Defense Ministry announced that the missing Russian-crewed ship, “Arctic Sea,” had been found near the Cape Verde Islands. However, Russia's embassy on the islands has denied that the report was true.

It seems the story of the vessel, the “Arctic Sea,” is still shrouded in mystery.

Hope was so close amidst reports that the ship had been found near the Cape Verde islands. Coast guards have said the ship was around 740 kilometers off shore, near the island of San Vicente. But the Russian Embassy has not confirmed the information.

“The information has not been confirmed by the government of Cape Verde. However, we are staying in touch with local authorities. They have promised not to provide the Arctic Sea with fuel or supplies if it enters one of the country's seaports,” Aleksandr Karpushin, Russian Ambassador to Cape Verde, told RT on the telephone.

Pirates? A bitter dispute between smugglers? Or, perhaps, even a government conspiracy to keep top-secret information from leaking out? Theories from around the globe are starting to pop up about the mystery of the "Arctic Sea."

“If there are any unauthorized persons on board, if they are not aware that they have been spotted, then the security forces may get quite lucky in getting on board,” says Nick Davis, the Head of the Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions in London.

But, why would pirates attack a ship supposedly carrying wood?

"Many commentators have talked about the possibility of an illicit cargo and that can't be discounted," Phil Cable – the owner of the Maritime Asset Security and Training organization – has said.

Speculation has ranged from weapons shipments or something even more serious being aboard.

"Somehow, maybe it is connected with some nuclear materials shipments," Mikhail Voitenko, the Editor-in-chief of Russian Maritime Bulletin, suggested.

And certainly the scope of the international search shows an intense interest in the ship's location. Given the level of sophistication of the supposed attack, some feel that entire countries may be responsible.

"I would think some type of governmental intervention on a very high level for another purpose, other than piracy. Maybe it was to determine whether there was some type of contraband on board the vessel," Joe Cox, of the Chamber of Shipping of America, said in an interview with RT.

But there are less controversial ideas floating about as well.

"To me, this is more of a commercial dispute,” said Nick Davis, explaining his view. “There is going to be a reason, probably a commercial reason, as to why that vessel disappeared.”

“That may well stem from the boarding that took place in the Baltic Sea. So, it is early yet, but I don’t think it has anything to do with timber. It could either be a commercial disagreement through debt or an insurance payout," the Head of the Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions added.

To find answers, some think it is wise to look to the ship itself.

"I think the key of trying to figure just what happened here will be to find out who the crew are, who the family of the crew are, and trying to contact them, because there is a conjecture going on here," Joe Cox resumed.

With so many twists and turns in the story, we may never know exactly what happened to the “Arctic Sea.” But, with all the international attention this story is enjoying, there is hope that there will be some resolution soon.