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Tanker and Crew Found Safe After Pirates Steal Cargo in Gulf of Guinea

Success 9 was missing for five days with an international search looking for the tanker

tanker highjacked in Gulf of Guinea found
Success 9 was brought to Abidjan after the pirates abandoned the tanker (photos courtesy of Singapore MPA)

Published Apr 15, 2023 3:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

The missing Singapore-registered tanker that was boarded at the beginning of the week has finally been located with authorities in Singapore and South Korea reporting the crewmembers are safe. A search had been ongoing since the Success 9 was boarded mid-day local time on Monday, April 10 approximately 300 nautical miles south of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority reports a distress call was detected by another commercial tanker, the Monjasa Sprinter which is also operating in the area south of Abidjan. The Monjasa tanker relayed the information to the company’s security officer who passed the details to the MPA and other authorities in the region.

The Information Fusion Centre (IFC) and the Monrovia Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), which had been coordinating the international search effort, were informed. A Cote d’Ivoire navy patrol vessel was dispatched and reached the Success 9. The Ivorian team boarded the ship confirming the safety of the crew and arranged for the vessel to proceed to Abidjan. The Success 9, built in 2003, is a 6,135 dwt product tanker owned by HS Ocean of Singapore.

South Korea’s foreign ministry provided additional details according to a report from the Korean news agency Yonhap saying that the ministry had been in contact with its citizen who was among the 20 crewmembers. They said the pirates abandoned the tanker after stealing cargo and the crew’s personal belongings. All the crewmembers have been accounted for and were unharmed.

 

All the crew were accounted for and in good health the MPA reports (photos courtesy of Singapore MPA)

 

The British-French monitoring agency Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade Gulf of Guinea listed the incident as concluded. They report the tanker was located approximately 65 miles southeast of Abidjan. 

The search for the vessel was launched on Monday after security agencies reported the Success 9 had been boarded by an unknown number of pirates. Cote d’Ivoire dispatched one of its patrol boats which reported it was unable to find the tanker. The search continued with the Ivorian air and sea assets working from the last known position of the vessel. 

Neighboring Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia were also assisting and Nigeria also provided its help while noting the vessel was not believed to be in their territory. International involvement also included the French Navy which is patrolling the region. Two weeks ago, the French frigate Premier-Maitre L'Her was successful in bringing another hijacking in the region to a conclusion. Another Monjasa tanker, the Monjasa Reformer was boarded off the coast of Congo and also went missing for multiple days. The French frigate spotted her with a drone hundreds of miles from her original position located approximately 90 nautical miles south of Bonny Island, Nigeria. By the time they were able to reach the Monjasa Reformer the pirates had abandoned the tanker kidnapping six crewmembers. The search is ongoing to find those crewmembers.

The two incidents coming within weeks of each other have led to broad calls from authorities around the world, security agencies, and the International Maritime Organization for increased vigilance in the Gulf of Guinea.