Kidnapped OSV Crewmembers Released in Nigeria

File image courtesy Bourbon Offshore

By MarEx 2016-03-25 20:16:50

Bourbon Offshore has announced that the two abducted crewmembers of the offshore supply vessel Bourbon Liberty 251 have been released, and are safe and uninjured. 

"For obvious reasons of confidentiality, Bourbon shall not make any further comment," the firm said. 

The two crewmen had been kidnapped in an attack on February 23; the remaining ten crewmembers on board had escaped, and returned with the Liberty 251 back to the port of Omme, Nigeria, near Port Harcourt.

The kidnapped men were of Russian and Nigerian nationalities, Bourbon said. The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that the Russian crewmember, Ivan Rudny, had been released, along with an unnamed colleague. "Rudny is in good health," the ministry said. "In the near future, he will come back to Russia."

Neither source mentioned the terms of the release, but security consultants PGI Intelligence suggest that Nigerian pirates are increasingly turning to kidnapping and ransom as a means of raising funds, as the profitability of hijacking tankers and stealing oil or fuel is in decline. 

In April 2015, three crewmembers were kidnapped from Bourbon's light crewboat Surfer 1440; they were released in May. Unofficial reports suggest that a ransom was paid to secure their safe return.

In late 2013, a Nigerian militant group announced that it had been paid a $2 million ransom for the safe return of two kidnapped American crewmembers of the Edison Chouest OSV C-Retriever; U.S. government officials confirmed that a ransom payment secured the release in that incident, although they did not disclose the amount of the payment. 

The pace of hostage-taking in Nigerian piracy incidents appears to be on the rise, with four instances so far in 2016 – the same as the number of kidnappings for the entirety of 2014.