15 Crew Kidnapped On Tanker In the Gulf of Guinea

Days after the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) cited the Gulf of Guinea as being the most dangerous for commercial shipping, reports of a new kidnapping surfaced last weekend in the region. 

The 11,321 DWT Liberian-flagged product tanker Curacao Trader was boarded in Gulf of Guinea, about 230 nautical miles south of Lagos, while enroute from Lome in Togo. The 15 Russian and Ukrainian seafarers were kidnapped.

The vessel departed Lome in Togo sailing south when it was approached by eight armed individuals who later boarded.

 The vessel was later reported drifting with its status on AIS showing as “Not under Command.” It was later reported to be proceeding at 10 knots. 

The new incident is the furthest offshore act of piracy yet recorded in the area.

Despite the use of speedboats, there are reports that the perpetrators are being supported by a larger mother vessel, allowing them to sustain deep offshore operations beyond state counter-piracy efforts. 

This is the third incident being reported this month in the Gulf of Guinea with five crew members kidnapped at the beginning of July from the general cargo vessel Kota Budi. Nine were also kidnapped from the FPSO Sendje Berge in the oil fields off Nigeria.

The IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre recorded 98 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first half of 2020, saying that the Gulf of Guinea accounted for over 90 percent of the maritime kidnappings worldwide. 

This latest incident brings to 93 the total number of crew kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea. The number of people kidnapped in maritime incidents is currently tracking at a 47 percent increase compared to 2019.