President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the Russian navy to join the hunt for a cargo ship that disappeared after passing through the English Channel.

Warships and nuclear submarines have have been told to “take all necessary measures to find and free” the ship and its 15-man Russian crew amid fears that it has been seized by pirates.

The mystery surrounding the Arctic Sea has deepened after further details emerged of the “missing” four days after the ship was reportedly raided by armed men off the Swedish coast.

There was speculation that the ship had been seized by the Russian Mafia as part of a dispute over arms or weapons smuggling.

The ship, carrying a cargo of timber, made a routine call to Dover coastguard on July 28 saying it was preparing to enter the Channel’s busy shipping lanes.

Its location beacon appeared to show the 3,988-tonne ship sailing along the English south coast before the signal was lost about 50 miles off Penzance on July 30. It was due to dock in Algeria on August 3.

Click here to read more on this story from the Times of London.