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Hijacked Bunkering Tanker Remains Missing in Gulf of Guinea

NASA satellite photo of Gulf of Guinea
Clouds pass over the Gulf of Guinea, April 11 (NASA)

Published Apr 13, 2023 11:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

Despite technological advances in vessel tracking and detection, a 6,000 dwt bunkering tanker believed to be boarded by pirates is still missing after four days, illustrating the persistent challenge of maintaining maritime domain awareness in far-flung waters.

Authorities believe that the Singaporean-operated Success 9 was hijacked in the Gulf of Guinea on April 10. She ceased transmitting AIS, and her last position was reported to be about 300 nm to the south of Cote d'Ivoire. 

In a brief update Thursday, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) reported that the owner of the tanker was still unable to establish communications with the missing ship. MPA said that it has asked authorities in Ivory Coast and Ghana to assist, and that Ivory Coast authorities have deployed air and sea assets to search near the last known position of the 350-foot-long vessel. The British/French-operated piracy reporting center for the Gulf of Guinea, MDAT-GoG, has issued a request to shipping to report any possibe sightings of the Success 9. The vessel is described as a black-hulled tanker with a white superstructure and a blue-striped funnel. 

20 seafarers were believed to be aboard the ship at the time of her disappearance, including one Singaporean national. 

The Success 9 is the second tanker captured by pirates in recent weeks in the Gulf of Guinea, and the second to disappear for days at a time. Pirates approached and boarded the tanker Monjasa Reformer on the night of March 25, and her 13,000 dwt, 440-foot-long hull vanished. She was not found until March 31, when the French Navy frigate Premier-Maitre L'Her spotted her with a drone.