MOSCOW, August 14 (RIA Novosti) - Solchart Arkhangelsk Ltd, the operator of the missing Arctic Sea cargo vessel, said on Friday it has no reliable information on the whereabouts of its ship.
"We are constantly trying to make contact with the ship using special equipment...as well as making periodic phone calls, but the on-board satellite communications system is, unfortunately, still switched off," Solchart managing director Viktor Matveyev said.
Germany's Financial Times Deutschland earlier said the ship may have been located off the coast of West Africa, citing two independent sources.
According to the sources, the vessel, operated by a 15-member Russian crew and carrying timber, was traced to an area northwest of the island of Santo Antao, Cape Verde's second-largest port, early on Friday.
Matveyev said Solchart has not yet filed an insurance claim with the brokers because the fate of the vessel is unknown.
"At this point, there is, fortunately, no need to file an insurance claim because we still do not know where the ship and its crew are located," the official said without disclosing the amount the vessel was insured for.
An insurance market expert said the insurance premium for a ship like the Arctic Sea could be between $10 and $20 million.
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 any possible 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, had been deployed.