Sixteen crew on Danish oil tanker have been locked in ship’s safe room for five days after being boarded by pirates in the most dangerous shipping lane in the world
Pirates boarded a Danish-owned oil tanker sailing in the most dangerous shipping route in the world, forcing its crew to barricade themselves in a safe room.
Communication was lost with tanker Monjasa Reformer after it was boarded by five armed pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of west Africa, on Saturday.
All 16 crew sought refuge in a safe room aboard, according to the cooperation centre.
The Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker was boarded by the five pirates around 140 miles west of the Republic of Congo’s Port Pointe-Noire.
Danish marine fuels supplier Monjasa said the crew of the 135-metre tanker sought refuge in the secure room or ‘citadel’ when the pirates boarded, ‘in accordance with the onboard anti-piracy emergency protocol’.
Monjasa said: ‘Onboard communications channels are currently down and we are working with the local authorities to establish communication to understand the situation on board and provide all the support needed by the crew to overcome these dreadful events.’
It added ‘the vessel was sitting idle’ when the incident took place.
The ship was spotted about 540 miles further off shore on Tuesday, according to a maritime cooperation centre monitoring security in the area.
The nationalities of the crew members and the pirates are not yet known.
The Gulf of Guinea is the world’s most dangerous spot for attacks on ships.
In June, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution strongly condemning piracy, armed robbery and hostage-taking in the area.
This hijacking took place further south in an area that is not typically attacked by pirates.
Rida Lyammouri, a senior fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, a Moroccan-based think tank, said: ‘This is worrying since it’s rare in this area compared to the Gulf of Guinea, for example, where multiple ship hijackings take place every year.
‘Hopefully we are not witnessing a new trend and [this] is just an isolated incident. This also could be explained by increased security measures in the Gulf of Guinea and pirates are looking into new areas of operations.’
Denmark, home to shipping giant Maersk, sent a naval frigate in 2021 to patrol the waters, after the country had pushed for a stronger international naval presence.
The Absalon-class Danish frigate Esbern Snare – equipped with a helicopter and around 175 marines aboard – was sent to patrol the waters between November 2021 and March 2022, a period when the risk of attacks was higher.
The Danish Shipping association said the latest incident shows ‘problems with piracy off the west coast of Africa are far from solved.’
Although it acknowledged the war in Ukraine meant Denmark’s navy was needed elsewhere, it suggested ‘vessels from several countries in the area… particularly the EU countries should coordinate their presence’ to provide the best cover.
In November 2021, sailors from the Danish frigate were involved in a firefight resulting in the deaths of five suspected pirates.
A suspected Nigerian pirate was transferred to Denmark to receive medical care after the skirmish.
After needing to have his leg amputated the man, who has also applied for asylum in Denmark, was put on trial for and convicted of endangering the lives of the Danish sailors.
Source: mail Online
Monjasa, a Danish oil trading and supply company, confirmed that it has lost contact with one of the company’s product tankers, the Monjasa Reformer, after the crew reported the vessel was being boarded by pirates off the west coast of Africa. The British-French operation Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) reports that it believes the incident is ongoing and is asking for mariners to assist in locating the missing vessel. An unconfirmed report this evening from EOS Risk Group is reporting that the vessel may have traveled as much as 470 nautical miles WNW from its last known position nearly three days ago.
“On board communications channels are currently down and we are working with the local authorities to establish communication to understand the situation on board and provide all the support needed by the crew to overcome these dreadful events,” the company said in its official statement issued from Denmark this morning. The company’s spokesperson said its thoughts are with the crew and their relatives in these hours.
The piracy incident began shortly before midnight local time off the coast of DR Congo on March 25. The Monjasa Reformer had departed Port Pointe-Noire earlier in the week and was laying approximately 140 nautical miles offshore in the Gulf of Guinea. According to the company, the vessel, which was acquired in December 2022 from Ektank, is being employed carrying marine gas oil, very low sulfur fuel oil, and high sulfur fuel oil products. It is unclear if the vessel is currently loaded. Built in China in 2003, the product tanker is approximately 442 feet long and 13,700 dwt.
Monjasa Group initially asked the media to withhold the name of the vessel saying that it was concerned that attention would be beneficial to the criminals who boarded the tanker. They report that are 16 crewmembers aboard.
“Montec Ship Management was notified by the crew that pirates had boarded the vessel and that the entire crew was secured inside the citadel in accordance with the on-board anti-piracy emergency protocol,” a company spokesman reports. In addition to immediately reporting the boarding to MDAT-GoG, Montec reports working with all relevant maritime authorities in the region, including several local and international navies.
MDAT-GoG is advising that the vessel remains “unlocated and not transmitting on AIS.” Masters operating in the vicinity are being asked to report any sighting of the black hulled tanker with a black funnel and orange logo or any suspicious activity.
“In order to minimize the risk of personal injury, as well as operating losses due to assault, the Monjasa Group has implemented an anti-piracy policy which includes an extensive description of how the crew and the officers should act in case of piracy attacks. The policy comprises measures to be taken both during and after a possible assault,” the company writes in its statement.
Monjasa has a long history of operating in this dangerous region and this is not the first experience with piracy. In October 2018, the Monjasa tanker Anuket Amber (9,500 dwt) operating under charter to Norbulk Shipping was also attacked in the same general vicinity near Port Pointe-Noire. The crew from the Anuket Amber along with an anchor handling tug the Ark Tze which was also boarded the same day were taken hostage by the pirates. The 12 crewmembers from the two vessels were released more than two months later in January 2019.
Source: The Maritime Executive
Pirates successfully captured a Danish- owned commercial ship in the Gulf of Guinea last Saturday . It is the ship “Monjasa Reformer” of the shipping company “Monjasa” with a crew of 16, which immediately took refuge in an armored “panic room”. The oil and chemical tanker is a black hulled tanker with a black funnel and orange logo flying under the flag of Liberia.
Source: MDAT-GoG, APE-MPE and Reuters
The UKMTO has reported that an M/V being fired upon by one craft.
Vessel reported approximately 4 to 5 bursts of automatic fire. On board AST returned fire. Incident located 30NM from the port of Hodeida. Vessel and crew safe.