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The MV Arctic Sea Conspiracy

August 16, 2009

About the same time 2 Russian nuclear subs appear off the East Coast, a Russian crewed cargo vessel goes missing in the English Channel. Coincidence, or just another of the countless mysteries at sea? Has anyone considered it could be a part of the Russian military exercises ongoing, perhaps to test the tracking abilities of their warships?

It could also have been an elaborate experiment in asymmetric warfare at sea. Since Moscow has known for years we could locate their subs, thanks to the Walker spy ring, they send their noisy boats to distract our own tracking forces, certainly a natural reaction for the US forces, then launch a scathing missile attack from launchers hidden in the bowels of the innocent looking merchantman. Makes some sense; why attack our strengths? From Eagle1 at the USNI blog:

…For several years we have been hearing, giving and responding to warnings about the danger of a rogue ship wandering the seas. And now we seemingly have a case in point. During his comments to the BBC, Major General Tom Wilkerson of the USNI refers to a couple of concerns, including the placement of something of value other than the ship’s normal cargo on the vessel, or, more ominously, something dangerous to others on the ship.
For example, on one extreme, there have been warnings of “SCUD” missiles being placed on small merchants and launching missile attacks (see here). A more likely scenario involves the use of a small ship as a carrier of massive amounts of explosives and other weapons of mass destruction and sailing the vessel into a densely populated port area and triggering the device.

These are the “auxiliary warships” we have mentioned before. With modern weapons, some daring and 9-11 like  ingenuity, plus a few old freighters, any nation can become an instant seapower.

Then again it could all be just another mystery. No one has ever figured out what happened to the Mary Celeste. The sea is a strange place and for some things there are no answers.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 17, 2009 5:17 pm

    “its likely that the ship has been re-painted and re-flagged”

    I hear the Asian pirates do this to captured vessels all the time. The Fast and the Furious on the high seas!

  2. west_rhino permalink
    August 17, 2009 12:28 pm

    think “maskirovka”, if in doubt, dry run diversion to see who does what is not beneath KGB, er FSB direction.

  3. Justin permalink
    August 16, 2009 9:30 pm

    Did anyone notice the report that this vessel was in for repairs at a nearby shipyard in Finland only a month before? It is incredibly easy for “un-manifested” cargo to be hidden in break-bulk cargo, fuel tanks, welded to the underside of the ship or in inaccessible voids in the hull between hatches. Obviously no one smuggles drugs into Africa, but what about weapons? Or possibly enriched uranium? The hi-jackers are obviously professional mariners and its likely that the ship has been re-painted and re-flagged. With its reportedly low freeboard it is of course quite easy to scuttle the ship once the un-manifested cargo has reached its intended destination too so it will be interesting to see if the ship is confirmed found in the next few weeks.

  4. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 16, 2009 11:49 am

    You’re probably right, though I do like to study all possibilities. They’ve been making plenty of mistakes lately and this is just another SNAFU.

  5. Eagle1 permalink
    August 16, 2009 11:43 am

    Well, until I see more, I’m still voting “coincidence.”

    But we still need to find a way to not have ships drop off the grid.


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