Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pirates of the Atlantic?

On Sunday I posted a link to this story about the Arctic Sea, a Russian-crewed cargo ship that suddenly went missing off the coast of Portugal last week. Now officials are thinking that the Arctic Sea has been the first big ship to fall victim to pirates off the coast of Europe in, well, as long as anyone can remember.

That, at least, is the leading theory in what happened to the Arctic Sea. The ship was due to arrive in Algeria with a cargo of lumber (nothing particularly valuable there) on August 4, but never did, nor was it seen sailing through the Straits of Gibraltar, meaning it's likely still somewhere in the Atlantic. Analysts say that the Arctic Sea may wind up being repainted - basically given a ship face-lift, to turn it into a 'new' vessel that would then be used to haul illicit cargoes (drugs, weapons, you name it). Another possibility is that the ship was grabbed as part of a business dispute - there have been some 'aggressive' tactics used to settle Russian business disputes in the past (like bombings), that was especially true during the 1990s.

Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is taking the whole Arctic Sea incident seriously enough to order ships from Russia's Black Sea and Baltic Sea fleets to head to the Atlantic to search for the missing ship and its crew of 13.
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