Pirates in UK Waters

A cargo ship named ‘The Arctic Sea’ is missing as speculation continues about the involvement of pirates in the vessel’s disappearance. If the reports of armed men boarding the boat are true, it will be the first significant incident of maritime piracy that Europe has ever seen.

Maritime officials are still baffled about what has happened to the 98 metre vessel, which was manned by a trusted Russian crew. There are several theories circulating; some say that Russian gangsters were using the ship to smuggle illegal arms, other say that the vessel was given a false identity to steal cargo from other ships. The Artic Sea was carrying around £1m worth of timber, which is not considered a particularly valuable cargo and it is unlikely that pirates would board the ship to steal it. Therefore it is more likely that the vessel was taken as part of a commercial dispute, experts suggest.

The vessel left a Finland port on 23rd July, bound for Bejaia in Algeria. It was originally due to arrive over a week ago but has still not arrived. A Russian News Agency reported that 10 armed men dressed as policemen boarded the ship the morning after it departed, near the island of Oland in Sweden in the Baltic Sea. The crew were tied up as the men stole items from the ship including a satellite phone, before departing in a rubber dinghy leaving three crew members injured.

The strange thing was that this attack was not reported or discovered until 10 days later when an alert was issued by Interpol. By this time, the ship had vanished. The vessel’s last confirmed contact was around 3pm on 29th July (British time). A radio message was sent to the British coastguard reporting to be on the Dover straits, heading for its Algerian destination. Signals that were emitted from the vessel’s automatic identification system confirmed this position. No suspicions were raised by this communication, but hours later the coastguard received an international police appeal suggesting that the ship could have been hijacked. It is possible that the radio message was sent by one of the pirates, or that a crew member was under force to send the communication.

The ship has since disappeared, and it is thought that it may be along the west coast of Africa; Russia and Portugal are both conducting naval searches to find the missing boat. It is hoped that the crew will be dropped off unharmed; the ship will probably be repainted and renamed.

Pirates are a popular theme for fancy dress costumes, however London escorts prefer to go for more seductive outfits such as a nurse or secretary.