Last updated 8/17 11:45 AM EST
Finnish officials today denied reports that the long missing cargo ship which vanished on its trip from Finland to Algeria was carrying nuclear materials, blaming “some stupid firemen who don’t know anything” for sparking the rumors.
The long and mysterious story of the MV Arctic Sea began in late July, when firefighters at the port of Pietarsaari conducted radiation tests on the ship, even though it was supposed to be carrying only timber. Officials say the tests were negative, and say the test “was a very stupid idea.”
The ship then left port and was attacked and boarded by men claiming to be Swedish police. They beat up some of the crew, damaged some equipment, and left. They reportedly took nothing with them, though the crew claimed they seemed to be searching for something.
If that wasn’t weird enough, the British Maritime Agency says the ship safely passed through the Strait of Dover on July 28, and maintained automated radio contact until July 30. A member of the crew also had a mysterious phone call with Swedish police on July 31, though police declined to say what it was regarding. The ship then vanished.
What happened after that is a matter of no small conjecture. Some reports have it being boarded and captured a second time off the coast of Portugal, Portugal denies it was ever even off the coast and the ship never got to the Straits of Gibraltar. Officials reported there were ransom demands but won’t say how much the ransom is and no one seems to know where the ship is.
Then this morning, the Russian Navy found the ship just loitering off the coast of Cape Verde. The crew was fine, there was no sign they were being held hostage, and what officials were calling the first hijacking in the Baltic Sea since the 17th century appears to be a hoax.