Ship appears to go missing

A search has been launched after a ship, thought to be under the control of pirates, apparently went missing in the English Channel.

The last known contact with the ship, which had 15 Russian crew on board, was made to the British Coastguard on 28 July, just before it entered the Dover Straits.

Four days earlier the cargo shipArctic Seawas allegedly boarded by pirates but they were reported to have fled on RIBs 12 hours later, leaving the ship’s communication system damaged.

Now there are fears that the 3,988 tonne ship, which has £1 million worth of timber on board, was in fact under the control of pirates when contact was made with the British Coastguard.

In the last conversation with the ship, a crew member told the Coastguard that the ship was destined to reach Algeria on August 4 but its whereabouts is a mystery and the Russian Navy is now deploying ships to help in the search.

Mark Clark from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency says: “We were only alerted after the ship had passed through the Strait (of Dover) that there was something unusual about the vessel which sparked our interest.

“And obviously we’re concerned about what’s happening to these people.”