15 Seafarers Kidnapped from Chemical Tanker in Gulf of Guinea
After a seeming lull in activity in the Gulf of Guinea, security services are reporting that a Maltese-flagged chemical tanker was boarding on March 11 and 15 crew members were kidnapped. Regional security forces responded to the incident and are monitoring for potential additional activity in the region.
The Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG), a cooperation center between the Royal Navy (UKMTO) and the French Navy (MICA-Center), reports that the master of a 19,800 dwt chemical tanker, the MT Davide B, reported that the vessel had been approached and boarded by nine armed intruders.
AIS data showed that the vessel, which had departed Northern Europe in February, was approximately 220 nautical miles south of Lagos, Nigeria inbound at a speed of 10 knots. Later AIS signals showed the vessel had slowed to a speed of under 3 knots before the AIS signal went dark.
MDAT-GoG says that the local authorities were informed of the report and that a Nigerian navy patrol vessel was dispatched to secure the ship. The Nigerians reached the vessel several hours later and reported that only six crew members remained aboard. They were reported to be unharmed and the vessel was being escorted to safety.
Initial reports indicated that the Davide B had a crew of 21 aboard consisting of Ukrainian, Romanian and Philippine nationals. Fifteen individuals were believed to have been taken from the ship by the pirates who will hold them for ransom. Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine later issued a statement on Twitter after speaking with the ship’s owner denying that any Ukrainian sailors were aboard the vessel.
Security analysts Dryad Global reports the attack took place in a particularly dangerous area. “Vessels within this area are at a unique vulnerability in that they are generally operating within waters beyond the operational footprint of regional security forces. Within 2020 there were five incidents inclusive of kidnapping that occurred within 30nm of the reported incident,” said Dryad.
MDAT-GoG and Dryad both reiterated warnings of a high risk in the area warning vessels to maintain a high level of security. During February, MDAT reported a total of five incidents, including two boardings and one incident of kidnapping at the beginning of the month. While there have been several other citings of suspicious crafts and approaches, there had not been other recent successful boardings before this current incident.