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Russian arms cargo vessel sails again

"MV Alaed" was anchored outside Roslyakovo in the Kola bay until she now sails again. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

UPDATED: “Alaed” is Thursday sailing southbound along the coast of northern Norway after she left Murmansk on Tuesday. A flotilla of four Russian warships are sailing in the same direction some 50 nm north of “Alaed.”

Location

MV Alaed” carrying arms for Syria, is now on its way south after she had to return to Murmansk in late June to be refitted with Russian flag.

The vessel has been anchored outside Roslyakovo, just south of the Russian Northern fleet’s main port of Severomorsk in the Kola bay since June 24, as reported by BarentsObserver.

Her original destination was Syria and the cargo was air defence systems and three Mi-25 military helicopters. 

MV Alaed” was Wednesday following a straight course through the Barents Sea in the pre-fixed westbound ship separation lane and passed outside North Cape around 16.00 Norwegian time. She then sailed into the Norwegian Sea and is currently holding a straight course south along Norway’s northern coast. With her current speed she will sail into the North Sea late Friday or early Saturday. 

Thursday “MV Alaed” was outside the Lofoten Islands. 

Warships sail same direction
The Norwegian Joint Head Quarters near Bodø is responsible for the surveillance of the waters in Norway’s economical zone in the north. 

Spokesman John Espen Lien says to BarentsObserver that “MV Alaed” is not sailing in the vicinity of the Russian Northern fleet’s flotilla currently also sailing south outside northern Norway. 

Read also: Warships sail from Severomorsk towards Syria

“We cannot see that the vessel sail along with the Russian naval force, but they are sailing in the same direction. “MV Alaed” has generally had a distance of 50 - 100 nautical miles from flotilla group and is now about 50 nm in front of the naval vessels,” says John Espen Lien Thursday at noon.
 
You can follow the voyage of the vessel by the online MarineTraffic.com portal as long as she is not out of range or turns off the AIS Transponder (Automatic Identification System). 

Naval vessels are not traceable via online civilian vessel traffic systems.

Today with Russian flag
MV Alaed” had to return to a Russian port after the British insures withdrew their coverage as the ship sailed in the North Sea in mid-June. The withdrawal of insurance come after London’s Foreign Office warned the insurance company that the vessel, due to its cargo, could be in breach of sanctions against the regime in Damaskus.

Russian authorities long claimed the vessel did not carry any weapons, but Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov finally admitted that “MV Alead” was carrying defence systems. Syria is Russia’s main remaining ally in the Mediterranean and host to its naval base at Tartus, the last such outside the former Soviet Union.

Upon her northbound voyage “MV Alaed” was sailing under the Curacao flag, today she has Russian flag. It is thought that this will get the cargo vessel around the insurance problems and EU arms embargo.

“Unlimited protection”
RIA Novosti quoted Wednesday deputy head of Russia’s military technical cooperation agency, Vyacheslav Dzirkaln saying Russian Navy warships will be sent to defend Russian merchant shipping in the event of a blockade due to the situation in Syria. 

“The fleet will be sent on task to guarantee the safety of our ships, to prevent anyone interfering with them in the event of a blockade. I remind you, there are no limits,” Vyacheslav Dzirkaln said, when asked about the navy’s actions in the event of a blockade.

Dzirkaln said Russia has not embargoed its existing arms contracts with Syria and will fulfill existing contracts for air defense systems and helicopters. 

MV Alead” has reported that her port of destination this time is Baltiysk in the Russian Baltic enclave of Kalinigrad. 

“Geopolitical game”
The shipping company FEMCO that owns ”MV Alaed” issued a press-release on July 11 where they state that the the most truly described surrounding information concerning “MV Alaed” and its cargo is published in the magazine Rough Seas - Maritime Transport and Arms Shipments.

The article describe what they call the “geopolitical game” with the cargo and sailing routes of the vessel.