Crew Kidnapped in Furthest Offshore Act of Piracy Recorded within Gulf of Guinea.

Armed pirates have kidnapped 13 crew off the coast of Benin in West Africa on July 17.

The product tanker Curacao Trader was around 244nm South Cotonou / 210nm WSW Bayelsa State Nigeria when eight pirates armed with machine guns boarded her as she was underway.

The pirates held all crew members hostage, while they stole the tanker’s documents and valuables. They kidnapped 13 out of the 19 Ukrainian and Russian crewmembers before escaping.

The tanker was left drifting with limited and unqualified crew onboard.

A nearby merchant vessel rendered assistance which allowed the tanker to sail to a safe port.

The ships management company, Alison Management said in a release, “Alison Management wishes to advise that its prime concern remains the safety and recovery of its abducted crews and no effort shall be spared to achieve their soonest possible release.”

Experts in maritime risk and global security, Dryad Global reports; Analysis indicates that the vessel departed Lomé port sailing South before her speed dropped to 3kts at the indicated time of the attack. The vessel is understood to have drifted until 1515hrs before returning to 10kts. The vessel status is currently showing as ‘Not Under Command’. 

The location of this incident is the furthest offshore act of piracy that has been recorded within the Gulf of Guinea. Despite the presence of speedboats, it remains highly likely that the perpetrators are being supported by a larger mother vessel, allowing them to sustain deep offshore operations beyond state counter-piracy efforts. 

This latest incident would bring the total number of kidnapped crew in incidents within the Gulf of Guinea to 91 across 18 kidnapping incidents. Incidents of kidnapping within the Gulf of Guinea in 2020 are currently tracking at a 20% increase when compared to the same time-frame in 2019. The total volume of personnel kidnapped in maritime incidents within the Gulf of Guinea is tracking at a 47% increase when compared to the same time frame in 2019.