Source Pravda.Ru

Search for Missing Ship to Continue

The Russian navy is being deployed to search for a missing cargo ship feared to have fallen victim to pirates.

President Dmitry Medvedev was reported to have ordered vessels from the country's fleet, plus two nuclear submarines, to intensify efforts to locate the Arctic Sea and its 15-strong Russian crew, The Associated Press reports.

The Arctic Sea's crew informed its managers last month that it had been boarded on July 24 off the Swedish island of Gotland by men purporting to be Swedish police.

The men allegedly bound the crew and spent 12 hours searching the ship before leaving empty-handed, according to the police account.

The vessel subsequently continued its voyage as normal, headed through the English Channel on July 28, according to the UK coastguard, and disappeared off the coast of France. The vessel was likely to be somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, Malta's authorities said yesterday, The The Arctic Sea's crew informed its managers last month that it had been boarded on July 24 off the Swedish island of Gotland by men purporting to be Swedish police.

The men allegedly bound the crew and spent 12 hours searching the ship before leaving empty-handed, according to the police account.

The vessel subsequently continued its voyage as normal, headed through the English Channel on July 28, according to the UK coastguard, and disappeared off the coast of France. The vessel was likely to be somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, Malta's authorities said yesterday, The Financial Times reports.

Meanwhile, the reasons for the hijacking and the subsequent disappearance have yet to be established and have mystified maritime experts.

Mikhail Voitenko, the editor of Russia's Sovfracht maritime bulletin, said the cause of the disppearance was likely to be linked to a secret cargo, such as arms or drugs, rather than timber. Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, managing director of Dryad Maritime, an intelligence company specialising in piracy, said: "It is likely that it would be an organised criminal gang that has chosen to target that vessel for a specific purpose," The Independent reports.

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