Thursday, August 13, 2009

Has Piracy Spread to Europe's Waters?

Recently we've become used to the idea of modern-day piracy, as we hear more and more stories of gangs hijacking ships for ransom in the lawless waters of East Africa. But the mysterious disappearance of a 4,000-ton cargo ship off the coast of England two weeks ago suggests the most unlikely of scenarios: buccaneering has returned to Europe.

On July 24, [2009], the Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea reported that it had been boarded by gunmen posing as law-enforcement officers off the coast of Sweden and that its 15 Russian crew members had been tied up and beaten. Four days later, the ship — which was carrying a load of timber from Finland worth $1.84 million — sailed into the English Channel, where it made routine communications with British maritime authorities, who at the time were unaware of the hijacking. About 50 miles (80 km) off the coast of Britain, the ship then slipped off the radar and has yet to be located. Officials are baffled.

"Who would think that a hijacked ship could pass through one of the most policed and concentrated waters in the world?" a bemused Mark Clark of the U.K.'s Maritime and Coastguard Agency told the BBC. "There didn't seem [to be] anything suspicious. It could well be that a crew member had a gun put to his head by a hijacker when contact was made."

  • "Missing at Sea: Has Piracy Spread to Europe's Waters?", Time, 8/13/09.
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency, UK government website.
  • IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, website.
  • United States Coast Guard, website.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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