Pirates Free Tanker and Crew
Pirates have freed the tanker Marine Express and her 22 Indian crew. Ship management company Anglo-Eastern said the tanker had been freed on Tuesday, and the crew were safe. The cargo of 13,500 tons of gasoline remains on board.
The Marine Express went missing in the Gulf of Guinea after contact was lost in Benin on Friday.
Anglo-Eastern issued a statement saying: “A complete investigation will be carried out into the hijacking, and we wish to express our gratitude to the captain and crew of the vessel and their families for their courage and fortitude in dealing with this difficult situation, as well as to all of the authorities and agencies involved.”
The pirate attack was the second in three weeks off Benin. On January 9, U.K. shipowner Union Maritime lost contact with the product tanker Barrett, which was at anchor off Cotonou. The Barrett had been taken by pirates, and her crew were in captivity for six days while a "resolution process" moved forward. The crew and the vessel were eventually released.
Piracy is a common occurrence in the Gulf of Guinea, where criminal groups based in the Niger Delta have the capability to raid shipping far out to sea. Several instances of armed robbery are reported monthly in the region. Piracy experts suggest that a higher occurrence rate is likely, and is masked by under-reporting.