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It is feared that pirates are to blame for the disappearance of a cargo ship which dropped off the radar after travelling through the English Channel late last month.
The Russian navy and European authorities are scouring the seas for any sign of the Arctic Sea, a Maltese-flagged ship.
Maritime security experts say reports of a hijacking in the days before the ship vanished mean piracy is the most likely explanation.
Originally posted by cindymars
Also recently Russian submarines were in US waters.
I heard on the news.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – The mystery surrounding a missing merchant ship deepened Thursday with the vessel's operator suggesting piracy and maritime experts suspecting foul play or even a secret cargo.
The Kremlin ordered Russian warships to join the hunt for the 4,000-tonne, 98-meter bulk carrier Arctic Sea, whose fate has baffled maritime authorities across Europe and North Africa.
The Maltese-registered vessel, carrying a $1.3-million cargo of timber, was supposed to have docked on August 4 in the Algerian port of Bejaia. It never arrived and is thought to have last made contact from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of France.
Mikhail Boytenko, editor of Russia's respected Sovfracht maritime journal, said that the ship may have been carrying a secret cargo unknown to the vessel's owners or operators.
"I think there was probably some sort of secret cargo on this vessel, not criminal but secret, and a third party of some sort did not want the cargo to get to another party so this highly sophisticated operation was cooked up," he told Reuters.
"I don't think that it was pirates who took this vessel but it really smells of some sort of state involvement. This is real cloak and dagger stuff, like a (John) le Carre novel."
A wave of piracy has hit shipping off Somalia, and an international naval force patrols its coast in an effort to protect merchant vessels. But a hijacking in European waters would be almost unprecedented in modern times.
"There has not been a so called incident of this kind around in Europe for a very long time," said Jim Davis, chairman of London-based industry group the International Maritime Industries Forum.
"It is a unique incident so far in European waters."
Piracy is rare in European waters with only a couple of recent incidents involving private yachts in the Mediterranean.