They hoodwinked Dover Coastguard

Pirates are believed to be behind the disappearance of a 3,993 tonne freighter, Arctic Sea, which is loaded with £1 million worth of sawn Baltic timber.

It is thought they boarded the Maltese-registered ship in the Baltic while she was on passage from Finland to Algeria.

As they came through Dover Strait they coolly told the Coastguard where they were bound – a requirement for all ships in the Strait – before steaming off down Channel.

Russia’s Black Sea naval fleet has joined the search for her as she was owned by a Russian firm.

Later her original crew reported they had been bound and gagged by armed men who boarded the ship from a RIB off Sweden.

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme reported she could now be re-painted and re-named and possibly in Nigeria. Their report also said the hi-jack might have been carried out by a gang owed money from the ship’s owners.