Crew Reported Kidnapped in New Incident in Gulf of Guinea

9 kidnapped in two attachs in Gulf of Guinea
(file photo)

Published Dec 13, 2021 7:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

After a seeming lull in attacks of merchant ships in the Gulf of Guinea with the increased international presence in the region, a new attack with a kidnapping was reported today in the same vicinity of other attacks in the region off Equatorial Guinea. Alerts have gone out for the potential of further piracy activity in the region.

While the details remain scarce at this moment, security consultants Dryad International is reporting that it believed six crew members have been abducted in an incident in the same place where another vessel was involved in another kidnapping incident in late October. The monitoring operation MDAT-GoG first reported a suspicious approach after midnight saying that a skiff was spotted with 12 individuals aboard. This was happening in the anchorage area near the port of Owendo in Gabon. This prompted MDAT-GoG to issue a warning for “an increased high risk of piracy activity for the next 24 to 48 hours.”

Dryad reported that six crew members were abducted although some set the number as high as nine crew from a containership in the same area that the OSV Montet Tide was the target of an assault on October 25. The offshore supply vessel managed by Tidewater was boarded and three crew members were reported taken in the previous incident that took place hours before pirates attempted an incident with an MSC containership. The Russian Navy took credit for chasing away the boarders on the MSC Lucia before they could abduct any crew members and then together the vessel were seen proceeding to the site of the Monet Tide.

Today's incident happened about 35 nautical miles away from the October reports, MDAT-GoG reported that the vessel had been boarded but was secured. They also said that Gabon has dispatched forces to the area. In later reporting, the Danish frigate operating in the area said that it had sent its helicopter to the area and spotted the skiff but was unable to stop it after it entered territorial waters apparently heading toward the Niger Delta region. The Danes boarded the containership providing assistance including searching for unaccounted for crew members leading to the current confusion on the exact number kidnapped. The Danish frigate is also providing medical care for one crew member from the containership that was wounded in the confrontation with the pirates.

Dryad tallies 2021 assaults on vessels at 10 with a total of 76 individuals believed to have been kidnapped. Most of those, however, were early in 2021 before the increased efforts in recent months by the international forces.

After the incident in which a Danish frigate intercepted a skiff and returned fire killing four suspected pirates, Dryad had cautioned that it was unlikely to immediately affect the pirate attacks. The European Community Shipowners’ Association had cautioned that the threat remained high and called for additional international efforts to protect merchant ships.


Note: An earlier version of the report indicated that the OSV had been the target of the attack, but today's incident appears to have only involved the crew members from the containership with three additional people being from the prior attack on the OSV.