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Monjasa Confirms Pirate Attack with Search Ongoing for Missing Tanker

tanker missing during piracy attack
Monjasa Reformer has been missing since she was boarded on March 25 (Monjasa file photo)

Published Mar 28, 2023 12:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

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.