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Russian Warships Join Search Of Missing Cargo Ship

The "Arctic Sea" was last seen on July 30.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian warships have joined the search for a cargo ship with a Russian crew which went missing two weeks ago off the coast of Portugal, ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

The Maltese-flagged bulk carrier, "Arctic Sea," failed to arrive at the Algerian port of Bejaia on August 4 as planned and the last communication with it occurred on July 28.

"Under the orders of President Dmitry Medvedev all Russian Navy ships in the Atlantic have been sent to join the search for the Arctic Sea," TASS quoted the Navy commander, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, as saying.

"These ships include corvette 'Ladny' and submarines," Vysotsky added.

TASSS said up to five Russian warships may take part in the operation.

The "Arctic Sea," carrying timber, was boarded on July 24 off the Swedish coast and searched by attackers posing as policemen, who tied up the crew for 12 hours before leaving, media reports at the time stated.

British media reports suggested the ship may have been seized by pirates.

The vessel was last seen after midnight on July 30 off the southwest of England traveling at a speed of 8.3 knots, according to AISLive ship tracking data on Reuters.

The "Arctic Sea" had been due to arrive in Bejaia on August 4, AISLive data showed.

Relatives of the crew have appeared on Russian television, saying they have no idea about the ship's location.

The 4,700-ton ship, originally called "Okhotsk," was built in 1991, has a Russian crew of 13 and is operated by a firm based in the Russian port of Arkhangelsk, according to data at the end of March, the marine news site states.

Some earlier Russian media reports said there were 15 crew on board and the ship was transporting Finnish timber to Algeria. They also stated the earlier incident was being investigated in Sweden.