Ships and subs from Russia’s Nothern Naval Fleet join in search for hijacked vessel

Up to five vessels – reported to include nuclear submarines – will be involved in the search for the Maltese-flagged “Arctic Sea,” the navy confirmed the BBC reported.

The hijacked vessel has a 15-strong Russian crew and was reportedly taking timber worth $1.5m from Finland to Algeria when it was boarded by gunmen on July 24th.

The “Arctic Sea” was last sighted off the north coast of France on July 30th.

"All Russian navy ships in the Atlantic have been sent to join the search for the Arctic Sea," Russia’s naval commander, Adm Vladimir Vysotsky, was quoted as saying by Moscow’s Itar-Tass news agency.

"All the information-intelligence systems of our armed forces, including the space-borne systems, the system of identification of sea vessels and others, have been calibrated to look for the missing ship," he said.

Operations will be centred on the patrol ship Ladny, a guided missile frigate which is part of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

The Finnish shipping line operating the ship reportedly said it was boarded by up to 10 armed men claiming to be anti-drugs police as it sailed through the Baltic Sea on July 24th.

But the intruders are reported to have left the vessel 12 hours later on an inflatable boat, and it is unclear who is in current command of the ship, the BBC said.

Relatives of the Arctic Sea’s 15 crew members – all of whom are said to come from the northern Russian port city of Arkhangelsk – have so far been unwilling to speak to the media.