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Five Ships' Crew Kidnapped by Pirates Off Nigeria

March 14, 2019 - 18:05:47 UTC
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Five Crew Kidnapped by Pirates Off Nigeria

FIVE crew members from a Nigeria-flagged offshore support vessel have been kidnapped by armed pirates around 30 nautical miles southeast of Brass, Nigeria.

During the attack on the E Francis on 9 March, the pirates also fired upon an escort vessel, Mother Tegiri, killing one member of the Nigerian Navy security team.

The pirates, in two speedboats, approached the underway OSV which saw the Master raise the alarm and inform the naval escort security vessel which manoeuvred to engage the pirates. One speedboat closed in from the port side crossing the bow, whilst the other speedboat exchange fire with the security vessel.

The crew mustered in the engine room and shut down all power to the vessel. The pirates were able to board the vessel using an elongated ladder. They then broke into the accommodation compartment, vandalised cabins and stole crew belongings, as well as vessel property.
Proceeding to the engine room, the pirates kidnapped five of the crew and made their escape.

The remaining crew sailed the vessel, under escort, to a safe anchorage. A Nigerian Navy security personnel was said to have been killed during the exchange of gunfire between the security vessel and the pirates. The International Maritime Bureau report states that investigations are ongoing in the matter. Unconfirmed reports claim several pirates were killed in the gunfight.

The Histira Ivory, whist berthed in Monrovia, Liberia, 9 February, was boarded when, during routine rounds, duty crew noticed a robber armed with a knife who fled on discovery. On conducting a serach, it was found that stores had been stolen.

The attack and subsequent kidnapping took place only a few days after pirates were able to kidnap three crew members from the Romanian-crewed, Malta-flagged Histria Ivory only 20 nautical miles south of Lome port, Togo, 3 March. Whilst the majority of the crew were able to muster in the vessel's citadel, four crew were found missing. One crew member was discovered hiding in a compartment, however, three Romanians were kidnapped as the pirates escaped, confirmed by the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Pirate Activity SE Nigerian coast 21 Feb - 9 Mar. Map: OCEANUSLive Pirate Activity off Lome & Nigeria. Map: OCEANUSLive

An unconfirmed report stated that eight crew members from three Chinese fishing vessels were kidnapped off Cameroon 23 Feb.

The most recent kidnappings highlights the continued danger to seafarers in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea. The increased violent activity during the fourth quarter of 2018 has continued into 2019 with ships reporting pirate attacks and approaches mainly off the southeast of Nigeria.

Despite the successes reported in tackling pirates and combating illegal oil bunkering in Nigerian waters, kidnap for ransom continues to be the stock in trade for pirates rather than the outright hijack of shipping in the region.

So far in 2019, January has seen eight incidents, February 10 incidents and March 4 incidents, including two kidnapping incidents to date.

The Nigeria Navy will soon be deploying several warships and helicopters to participate in a multinational sea exercise code name ‘Obangame’. In the five-day long sea exercise, the Nigerian Navy is expected to play host to navies from countries such as USA, Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic, Senegal, Cameroon, amongst others.


OCEANUSLive.org

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Submitted by Team@oceanuslive.org

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