High Seas: Strange Cargo

A curious trove of Soviet arms

Halfway through a routine nine-day crossing of the Atlantic, below a scalding sun on a lazy late afternoon, a deck hand aboard the Venezuelan cargo ship Maracaibo suddenly spotted a ship drifting aimlessly in the hazy distance. Captain Humberto León Dorante steamed toward the mysterious vessel and tried to establish radio contact with it. When he received no response, he slowly circled the ship three times to look for signs of life or danger. Then he dispatched an armed three-man expedition to board it. Shortly thereafter, León radioed Venezuelan navigation headquarters with his findings: "We...

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