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Indian Ship Manager Confirms Violent Attack on OSV in Gabon

violent attack on vessel in Gabon
New Owendo International Port (Gabon Special Economic Zone photo)

Published Sep 8, 2021 7:11 PM by The Maritime Executive

Additional information came out regarding the attack on an OSV in Gabon over the weekend. Details suggest that, unlike typical piracy attacks, the vessel may have been targeted with local authorities investigating people that were hired onshore to provide services to the vessel in the anchorage.

Family members of the crew along with a representative of the management company Proactive Ship Management based in Mumbai speaking to the Indo-Asian News Service confirmed the violent nature of the attack. The boarders came aboard shortly after midnight on September 5 and were reportedly armed with Ak-47s. They opened fire when the Indian crew aboard the Tampen attempted to fight back. The ship’s chief officer and cook suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were taken to a hospital.

The report also suggests during the fight, the boarders threw the ship’s second engineer overboard. Details are confused with some outlets suggesting he might then have been kidnapped while others said the authorities were searching the anchorage for the missing crew member.

Captain Sunil Kumar of Proactive speaking IANS said that the Tampen had been sailing with a crew of 17 Indians from Cameroon to Dubai when the vessel developed problems with its propulsion system. They had decided to anchor in Gabon’s Owendo anchorage. 

While in the anchorage three people were hired from shore to provide services. Two were technicians servicing the vessel while the third collected garbage from the ship. The Gabon authorities are reportedly investigating these three individuals for possible involvement in the attack.

The shipping company said that there is an armed security guard aboard the OSV and that their focus has been on assisting the crew. However, the families complained to the Indian media that the company was not responsive. The company said it would provide a replacement crew but it expected that the crew would stay with the vessel and it would continue its voyage.

The Indian company began operating the Tampen, a 4,300 dwt supply vessel built in 2006 after it was sold by Bourbon. The Tampen is currently registered in St. Kitts and Nevis.

While there have been prior assaults on ships and kidnappings in Gabon, security analysts at Dryad International termed the attack unusual. They noted if confirmed it would be the first kidnapping in Gabon in 2021.