Ship Vanishes From English Channel

Secret cargo of drugs or arms may be behind maritime mystery
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2009 4:11 PM CDT
In this 2008 photo the cargo ship Arctic Sea is seen in Kotka, Finland.   (AP Photo/Pekka Laakso/Lehitukuva)

(Newser) – The Russian navy has deployed warships and submarines in search of a cargo ship that mysteriously disappeared from European waters, the Telegraph reports. The Russian crew of the Arctic Sea, which was transporting a load of timber worth nearly $2 million, reported being attacked by pirates in Swedish waters on July 24. Then things really get confusing. Twelve hours later, the crew reported that the hijackers had left but had damaged communication equipment and taken their cell phones.

The ship then passed through the English Channel on July 28, but British authorities, who had not yet heard of the attack, did not stop it. The ship filed a business-as-usual report with the British coast guard—and then vanished. Some suspect the ship may yet be under the control of pirates, possibly because it was carrying a secret, illegal cargo: “I don't think this is about pirates after a cargo of timber. It is more likely to be about arms or drugs,” said the editor of Sovfracht, a Russian maritime bulletin.