ST. PETERSBURG- Russian ship purportedly carrying helicopter gunships to Syria will arrive in the port of St. Petersburg by the end of the month, the ship’s owner, Femco, said on Monday.
“At the moment the vessel is headed from Murmansk to St. Petersburg where it will be loaded up and will then proceed to the Far East,” the company said.
Russian warships have not so far received any orders to escort the MV Alaed, a high ranking source at the Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti.
“As of right now there are no such plans or missions for the Navy,” he said.
The MV Alaed, sailing under the Curacao flag, had to return to the northern port of Murmansk after its British insurers pulled their coverage as it rounded the coast of Scotland. Femco declined to comment on the nature of the cargo on board.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the MV Alaed carried overhauled disassembled helicopters to Syria, not gunships, as claimed by Western media, which said the ship was carrying armaments and ammunition to Syria.
The helicopters became the center of a diplomatic row last week, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claiming Russia was supplying weapons that would be used against civilian protesters.
The 9,000-tonne private cargo was forced to turn back when its British insurer ended up pulling coverage.
The ship then docked in an Arctic port before setting sail again on Tuesday following pledges by Russian military officials to complete the delivery despite the anger it caused in the West.
The timing of the second voyage sparked alarm as it coincided with the deployment of a Russian flotilla to the Mediterranean that could have provided protection from any foreign attempt to block the ship.
The Russian arms export agency on Friday confirmed that the helicopters were aboard the Alaed when it set sail for the second time but refused further comment.
The MarineTraffic.com website that tracks global maritime activity showed the Alaed's radar signal coming in Sunday just north of Denmark following the ship's southern passage along the Norwegian coast.