The French Defense Ministry said on Friday the missing Arctic Sea cargo ship has been spotted near Cape Verde.

Ministry spokesman Capt. Jerome Baroe says Cape Verde coast guards have confirmed the Arctic Sea was discovered Friday afternoon about 520 miles (840 kilometers) off the former Portuguese colony off the West African coast.

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.

The cargo ship has been missing since it passed through the English Channel on July 28.

The ship was last heard from on July 28 making contact with British maritime officials and then sailing through the Dover Strait.

According to Interpol the ship was briefly seized in the Baltic Sea by masked men claiming to be police on July 24.

Reports state that after 12 hours the men left the ship and the Arctic Sea resumed its voyage.

Speculation on what might have happened has ranged from theories that it might have been carrying secret cargo to the possibility that it fell victim to an almost unheard of case of sea banditry in European waters.