Philippine Government Aids Effort to Free Kidnapped Tanker Crew
The Philippines government announced that it is getting involved to help secure the release of the kidnapped seafarers that were taken a week ago from De Poli’s chemical tanker MT Davide B approximately 220 nautical miles south of Lagos, Nigeria. The government’s efforts came as the shipowner announced that they had made contact with the crew and that they were all safe.
“Families have been informed and the efforts are underway to secure the crew members’ safe release,” said Ivy Banzon-Abalos, the Executive Director for Strategic Communications at the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs. According to the Philippine authorities, four Filipino crew members were among the 15 taken from the tanker on March 11.
Initial reports after the incident indicated that the Davide B had a crew of 21 aboard consisting of Ukrainian, Romanian and Philippine nationals. 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.
De Poli Shipmanagement, which operates the Maltese-flagged tanker, also issued a brief statement saying that it had been able to establish contact with the 15 seafarers taken hostage
“The first contact with those holding our crew is an encouraging step in our efforts to resolve this distressing situation. We have meanwhile entered in a dialogue with the kidnappers with the objective to have a swift and safe release of our men,” the company said in its statement. De Poli reported that it had learned that the crew are all together and doing well under difficult circumstances. The company has also shared the news with their families at home who continue to receive its support.
The 19,800 dwt chemical tanker had departed Northern Europe in February and was inbound to Lagos, Nigeria when the master reported that they had been boarded by nine armed intruders. A Nigerian navy patrol vessel went to the ship’s aid but by the time they arrived the pirates had left taking 15 of the 21 crew aboard the ship. The Nigerians reported that the six crew remaining aboard were safe and they escorted the vessel to the anchorage.
In response to this and other recent violent incidents in the region, yesterday Denmark announced its plans to deploy one of its frigates to the area in the fall to increase maritime security. Reports indicate that the German Shipowners Association expressed its appreciation to the Danes and called on Germany and other nations to also join in the effort to provide greater security for vessels operating in what is currently one of the most dangerous regions in the world.