Piracy in European Waters?

Mike Schuler
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August 12, 2009

Image via Telegraph.co.uk

With piracy along the horn of Africa creating such a buzz in the media, it is a common misconception that the act is confined to this area where onshore conditions have forced many into a life of hijacking ships for ransom.  In reality, a look back at the International Maritime Bureau’s Live Piracy Maps from previous years, it is obvious that piracy on the high seas is in fact a world wide occurrence and not confined to any one geographical area.

However, the recent disappearance of the russian-crewed Arctic Sea after transiting one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes leaves experts scratching their heads and has forced an international search operation to be put underway.  CNN has the story:

An international search operation was underway Wednesday for a cargo ship which vanished after being involved in what is feared to be an unprecedented incident of piracy in European waters.

The Russian-crewed Arctic Sea, carrying a 6,500-ton cargo of timber from Finland to Algeria, was last heard of nearly two weeks ago when it passed through the English Channel, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Russia said naval vessels authorised to use force were now hunting the vessel backed by “space-based” detection systems.

The Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea is claimed to have been briefly hijacked off Sweden when raiders posing as drug enforcement officers tied up, gagged and blindfolded the crew, causing several injuries, and searched the vessel.

It then apparently vanished after a last known contact on July 31, failing to make its scheduled arrival in north Africa on August 4. READ FULL ARTICLE

While the London based International Maritime Bureau, which tracks ship piracy worldwide, said it did not believe the Arctic Sea had fallen into the hands of pirates, a number of questions remain surrounding this incident.  Stay tuned as more developments on this story are sure to arise.

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