MOSCOW, August 13 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Navy dismissed on Thursday media reports that the Black Sea frigate Ladny had been pursuing a ship in the Atlantic that resembled the missing Arctic Sea cargo vessel.
The ship, which is operated by Solchart Arkhangelsk Ltd and has a 15-member Russian crew on board, was last sited off the coast of Portugal and is now feared to have been hijacked.
"The Navy press service stresses the fact that the only reliable source of information is the statements officially and regularly issued by the Russian Navy," a Navy statement said.
"Any other information is based on the personal conjecture of unofficial sources and is, therefore, false," is said.
The statement reiterated that Russian Navy ships continue to carry out the search for the Arctic Sea in the Atlantic, following set courses.
One of the most recent unconfirmed reports said a ship, bearing resemblance to the missing Arctic Sea vessel, has arrived in the Spanish port of San Sebastian.
However, the port authorities said on Thursday that neither Arctic Sea nor similar ships had visited San Sebastian.
"The Port Authority declares that the Arctic Sea vessel is not anchored in our port," a statement posted on the port's website said.
The statement added that the port in San Sebastian, also known as "Pasajes," is not capable of receiving ships as large as the 98-meter Arctic Sea and was built to accommodate only fishing boats and yachts.
The Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea set off from Finland on July 23 carrying a large load of timber, and was due to arrive at the Algerian port of Bejaia on August 4.
Some media reports said contact was lost with the ship on July 28, after masked men claiming to be police briefly seized the vessel in the Baltic Sea on July 24 tying the crew up and searching the vessel. A sailor was quoted by the media as saying the men left the ship after about 12 hours, and the Arctic Sea resumed its voyage.
However, suspicions are growing that the crew member could have been threatened and that the ship was in fact hijacked.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered on Wednesday measures to track, monitor and, if necessary, free the ship from the hijackers after Solchart requested state assistance in the search-and-rescue operation.
Russia's Defense Ministry later said that it had dispatched Black Sea Fleet vessels now on a mission in the Atlantic to hunt for the cargo ship, and all search-and-rescue means, including satellite reconnaissance, have been deployed.