Pirates off Nigeria’s coast kidnapped 15 sailors from a Turkish container ship in the Gulf of Guinea on Saturday in a brazen and violent attack that was farther from shore than usual.
One sailor was killed in the raid, an Azerbaijani citizen, while those kidnapped are from Turkey, according to the respective governments and a crew list obtained by Reuters.
Accounts from crew, family members and security sources described a sophisticated and well-orchestrated attack on Saturday in which armed pirates boarded the ship and breached its protective citadel, possibly with explosives.
Three sailors remain on the Mozart, which was approaching Gabon’s Port Gentil on Sunday and expected to dock, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. The Liberian-flagged vessel was headed to Cape Town from Lagos when it was attacked 160 kilometres (100 miles) off Sao Tome island on Saturday, maritime reports showed.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office said on Sunday he was orchestrating officials in the “rescue of kidnapped ship personnel”.
Erdogan spoke twice by phone with the ship’s fourth captain, Furkan Yaren, who remained aboard after the attack, his office said.
State-run Anadolu agency cited Yaren as saying he had been “cruising blindly” toward Gabon with damage to the ship’s controls and only the radar working. The pirates beat crew members, and left him with an injured leg while another still aboard the ship had shrapnel wounds, he said.
Turkish media cited Istanbul-based ship owner Boden company as saying the owners and operators of the vessel were abducted at gunpoint. Boden was not immediately available.
Ambrey, a security company, said four armed men boarded the Mozart and entered the citadel – where crew are advised to hide in any attack – from a deck atop the cabin.
Edward Yeibo, a Nigerian Navy commander, said he was not aware of the attack and seeking details. The Lagos naval command office and a spokesman for Nigeria’s maritime regulator were not immediately available.
Pirates in the Gulf, which borders more than a dozen countries, kidnapped 130 sailors in 22 incidents last year, accounting for all but five of those seized worldwide according to an International Maritime Bureau report.
The attack on the Mozart could raise international pressure on Nigeria to do more to protect shippers, which have called for tougher action in recent weeks, analysts said.
“The fact that someone died, the number of people taken and the apparent use of explosives to breach the ship’s citadel means it is a potential game-changer,” said David Johnson, CEO of the UK-based EOS Risk Group.
“It’s clearly quite sophisticated and if pirates have decided to use munitions it’s a big move,” he said. There is “no doubt” those kidnapped will be taken back to Nigeria’s Delta and Turkey will have little hope stopping it, he added.
Turkey’s foreign ministry said the pirates had not made any contact with Ankara.
Seyit Kaya, brother of the ship’s kidnapped 42-year-old captain Mustafa Kaya, a father of two, said in an interview he awaited details from the ship’s owner on any possible ransom. “Since that area is where many attacks take place, they take cautions against pirates,” said Kaya, who is also a sailor.
The world’s biggest shipping company demanded a more effective military response to surging pirate attacks and record kidnappings off the coast of West Africa.
The number of attacks on vessels globally jumped 20% last year to 195, with 135 crew kidnapped, the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre said in a Jan. The Gulf of Guinea accounted for 95% of hostages taken in 22 separate instances, and all three of the hijackings that occurred, the agency said.
The attacks have pushed up insurance and other costs for shippers operating off West Africa, with some resorting to hiring escort vessels manned by armed navy personnel. A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, which transports about 15% of the globe’s seaborne freight, said decisive action needs to be taken.
“It is unacceptable in this day and age that seafarers cannot perform their jobs of ensuring a vital supply chain for this region without having to worry about the risk of piracy,” said Aslak Ross, head of marine standards at Copenhagen-based Maersk. “The risk has reached a level where effective military capacity needs to be deployed.”
Maersk Warns of Africa Piracy Risk After Cargo Ship Attacked
Pirates Now Prefer Human Hostages Over Ships and Cargo Gulf of Guinea encompasses a vast tract of the Atlantic Ocean that’s traversed by more than 20,000 vessels a year, making it difficult for under-resourced governments to police. Fringed by an almost 4,000-mile-long shoreline that stretches from Senegal to Angola, it serves as the main thoroughfare for crude oil exports and imports of refined fuel and other goods.
Twenty-five African governments, including all those bordering on the gulf, signed the Yaoundé Code of Conduct in 2013 to tackle piracy. It aims to facilitate information sharing and established five maritime zones to be jointly patrolled, but has been only partially implemented and most navies remain focused on safeguarding their own waters.
Bertrand Monnet, a professor of criminal risk management at France’s EDHEC Business School who has studied piracy in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta region for 15 years, estimates that a maximum of 15 bands operate offshore West Africa, each comprising 20 to 50 members.
“The Delta both provides the launch area for the pirates but is also where they go back to when they have their kidnapped crew” to negotiate ransoms, said Max Williams, security firm Africa Risk Compliance’s London-based chief operating officer.
Nigeria, the regional powerhouse, has taken the lead in preventing attacks and its navy says it has arrested more than 100 suspects who are facing trial under a new anti-piracy law – the first of its kind in the region. government plans to commission nearly $200 million of new equipment this year, including helicopters, drones and high-speed boats, to boost the navy’s capabilities.
Nigeria is committed to “ensuring that this menace of piracy is gotten rid of in our waters, so that those with legitimate business in shipping, fishing, and oil and gas can go about their business without fear,” Rear-Admiral Oladele Daji, commander of the Nigerian Navy’s western fleet, said in an interview.
Many shipowners favor a more muscular international effort modeled on the military response to hijackings offshore Somalia, which was the global epicenter of piracy from about 2001 to 2012. Armed guards and warships dispatched by the European Union, NATO and a U.S.-led task force to protect vessels traveling through the Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest trade routes linking Europe to Asia, helped bring the problem under control.
If national governments focus on their territorial waters –- the 12 nautical miles (14 miles) from their shores –- major naval powers could reduce piracy further afield in the gulf by deploying two or three frigates equipped with helicopters, said Jakob Larsen, head of maritime security at the Baltic and International Maritime Council, a Copenhagen-based shipowners’ group. He considers such support unlikely because the sea routes aren’t as strategically important as those off Africa’s east coast. “There is little international appetite for getting involved in Nigeria’s security problems,” he said.
The Liberian Shipowners’ Council urged the Nigerian authorities to disrupt the pirates’ onshore criminal activities. Improving employment prospects for impoverished coastal communities would reduce the threat of piracy in the longer term, but won’t address the immediate problem, said Kierstin Del Valle Lachtman, the council’s secretary general.
While the west African attacks were initially concentrated offshore Nigeria, they’ve since spread to waters off Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Togo and Cameroon, according to Kamal-Deen Ali, executive director of the Accra-based Centre for Maritime Law and Security Africa and a former Ghanaian naval officer.
The number of violent attacks in the Gulf of Guinea has remained fairly consistent over the past decade, but abductions of more than 10 people have become increasingly commonplace, said Dirk Siebels, senior analyst at Denmark-based Risk Intelligence.
The pirates are increasingly operating deeper out to sea, with kidnappings on average taking place 60 nautical miles offshore in 2020, according to the IMB. The furthest out took place in mid-July, when eight machine-gun wielding pirates boarded a chemical tanker off Nigeria’s coast and seized 13 crew members before fleeing. Only unqualified seamen remained on the Curacao Trader, which was left adrift 195 nautical miles from the coast. The crew were freed the following month.
“The perpetrators of such incidents are perfectly aware there is almost no risk of being caught,” said Munro Anderson, a partner at London-based maritime security firm Dryad Global. “That is precisely the kind of incident an international naval coalition could mitigate.”
Η Capital Ship Management Corp. επιβεβαίωσε με ανακοίνωσή της ότι τα τέσσερα μέλη πληρώματος που είχαν απαχθεί από το υπό διαχείριση δεξαμενόπλοιό της Agisilaos αφέθηκαν σήμερα ελεύθεροι. Υπενθυμίζεται ότι το περιστατικό συνέβη στις 29 Νοεμβρίου 2020.
Και τα τέσσερα μέλη είναι ασφαλή και υποβάλλονται σε ιατρικές εξετάσεις, σύμφωνα με την ανακοίνωση της εταιρείας.
Iran seized a South Korean-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz and announced it would increase its nuclear activities, as tensions in the region mount in the final days of Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said it detained the vessel Hankuk Chemi at 10 a.m. local time Monday “due to repeated violations of marine environmental laws.”
It has been reported to UKMTO that on 31 DEC 2020 whilst in the vicinity of the KAZ Anchorage a limpet mine was placed on the hull of the vessel. Vessels who have visited the anchorage recently are advised to conduct a visual check of their hull above and where possible below the waterline.