Missing ship may have secret cargo

A secret cargo and not just timber may be on board a missing ship whose last known radio contact was with British Coastguards, it has been suggested.

Russia's navy fleet and two nuclear submarines have been scrambled as efforts intensified to locate the Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea and its 15-strong Russian crew.

Experts and marine authorities continue to be baffled that the 4,000-tonne vessel "disappeared" after its last official recorded positioning off northern France on July 30.

Mikhail Voitenko, editor of Russia's Sovfracht maritime bulletin, said the ship, carrying about £1 million-worth of sawn timber from Finland to Algeria, might have been targeted because it was also loaded with an unknown cargo.

He told the Russia Today news channel: "The only sensible answer is that the vessel was loaded secretly with something we don't know anything about. We have to remember that before loading in Finland the vessel stayed for two weeks in a shipyard in Kaliningrad. I'm sure it cannot be drugs or illegal criminal cargo. I think it is something much more expensive and dangerous."

The Arctic Sea made routine radio contact with Dover Coastguard as it was about to enter the Strait of Dover from the North Sea at 1.52pm on July 28. Days later Interpol informed the British Coastguard that the ship had been hijacked days before in the Baltic Sea.

According to reports, it was boarded by up to 10 armed men purporting to be anti-drugs police on July 24. Some 12 hours later, the intruders apparently left the ship on a high-speed inflatable boat and allowed the vessel to continue on its passage but with its communications equipment damaged.

By the time Interpol alerted Dover Coastguard about the apparent hijacking, the Arctic Sea had already passed through the English Channel, UK Coastguards said.

The ship failed to reach its destination at Bejaia in northern Algeria on August 4, as a supposed crew member on board the vessel told Dover Coastguard when radio contact was made.

It was last recorded on the AISLive ship tracking system off the coast of Brest, northern France, just before 1.30am on July 30, but its whereabouts now remains a mystery.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test