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A dozen pirates dressed as cops gagged and bound a ship's crew as it steamed towards the English Channel, it has emerged.
Authorities were alerted that the Maltese-registered Arctic Sea had been boarded by up to 12 armed men purporting to be anti-drugs police.
"During their stay onboard, the members of the crew were allegedly assaulted, tied, gagged, and blindfolded and some of them were seriously injured," a Maltese official explained to Sky News Online.
"All crew members were 'hard' questioned for a considerable amount of time - the questioning was related to drug trafficking.
Russia's navy has been deployed to find a ship reportedly hijacked three weeks ago in the Baltic Sea. Up to five vessels - reported to include nuclear submarines - will be involved in the search for the Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea, the navy confirmed.
A nuclear submarine is a submarine powered by a nuclear reactor. The performance advantages of nuclear submarines over "conventional" (typically diesel-electric) submarines are considerable: nuclear propulsion, being completely independent of air, frees the submarine from the need to surface frequently, as is necessary for conventional submarines; the large amount of power generated by a nuclear reactor allows nuclear submarines to operate at high speed for long durations; and the long interval between refuellings grants a range limited only by consumables such as food. Current generations of nuclear submarines never need to be refueled throughout their 25-year lifespans. Conversely, the limited power stored in electric batteries means that even the most advanced conventional submarine can only remain submerged for a few days at slow speed, and only a few hours at top speed; recent advances in air-independent propulsion have eroded this disadvantage somewhat. The high cost of nuclear technology means that relatively few states have fielded nuclear submarines.