Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pirate Attack off the Swedish Coast

Return of the Vikings?
Shipping News Feature

It has been reported that in the early hours of Friday the 24th of July a freight vessel operated by a Finnish shipping line had been attacked by pirates in Swedish territorial waters.

The Arctic Sea, sailing under a Maltese flag, was boarded by eight to ten men between the islands of Oland and Gotland off the east coast of Sweden. The attackers, who spoke English, tied up the members of the crew and beat them. They also searched the vessel thoroughly before leaving the ship at about noon on the same day. The raiders were masked and dressed in black and claimed to be police officers on a drugs search.

The case has engendered a great deal of confusion as the attack was not reported to Swedish police until the following Tuesday. The reason for this is that the event did not come to the notice of Finnish authorities until Monday the 27th July, who then passed it along to the Swedish Coast Guard, who in turn informed the police. The 15 man crew all being Russian nationals, has also meant that the Russian authorities are also taking an interest.

Ingemar Isaksson, who is headed up the Swedish investigation, said that he had “never heard of anything like it.” He also admitted that the police were at a loss to explain the attack and that there was no suspicion that the ship had been carrying illegal substances.

While pirate attacks off the coast of Africa and in Asian waters have been extensively reported, catalogued and prompted action by the world community, this attack stands out as an extremely worrying development, not so much in the act itself as in the very confused and long-winded nature of any sort of response and the unlikely area in which it occurred.