Friday, August 14, 2009

Has Piracy Spread to Europe's Waters? Update 1: Maybe... Maybe Not!

A missing ship with 15 Russian crew members on board has been spotted more than two weeks after it disappeared, unconfirmed reports say. The Arctic Sea had last been sighted in the Bay of Biscay on 30 July. Reports citing local coastguards now suggest it has been seen some 400 nautical miles from the Cape Verde islands, off the coast of West Africa.

Russian navy ships have been searching for the 4,000-tonne Maltese-flagged vessel, which had been carrying timber. Observers have suggested the ship was hijacked, possibly because of a Russian commercial dispute. Following the reported sighting, a spokesman for the French defence ministry told the BBC that the Arctic Sea was thought to be in international waters.

The spokesman said his information came from the Cape Verde coastguard, who said the ship was outside their jurisdiction. He was unable to confirm the coastguard's report. Martin Selmayr from the EU Commission said "It would seem that these acts, such as they have been reported, have nothing in common with 'traditional' acts of piracy or armed robbery at sea."

However, the spokesman said there was a "high possibility" that the ship had been located. French intelligence officials also believe they have found the ship in the same area, he said. There has been no confirmation yet from Russian authorities that of any sighting of the Cape Verde.

The Russian ambassador to Cape Verde, Alexander Karpushin, said a Russian frigate was heading to the area but had no information on the Arctic Sea's location, Associated Press reported, quoting Russian radio. Five Russian warships and other vessels have been searching the Atlantic for the vessel.

Carrying timber reportedly worth $1.8m (£1.1m), the Arctic Sea sailed from Finland and had been scheduled to dock in the Algerian port of Bejaia on 4 August. The ship had reportedly been attacked twice during its journey - once off the Swedish coast, and then off the Portuguese coast.

The crew reported being boarded by up to 10 armed men as it sailed through the Baltic Sea on 24 July, but the intruders were reported to have left the vessel on an inflatable boat after 12 hours. There is something 'fishy' going on with this little boat trip, no pun intended.

  • "Rumors, mystery surround search for cargo ship", CNN, 8/14/09.
  • "Missing ship 'found' off Africa", BBC News, 8/14/09.
  • "Missing Cargo Ship Found Off Coast Of West Africa”, NPR, 8/14/09.



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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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