Pirates Kidnapped 3 From Bunkering Vessel En Route Lagos

.The Stelios K

Three people have been kidnapped from the Togo-flagged bunkering vessel Stelios K which was boarded last week by a group of pirates while en route to Lagos.

As Offshore Energy – Green Marine reported, the shipowner lost contact with the vessel on November 17 resulting in authorities seeking to establish the vessel’s location and make contact with the crew. 

Shortly after the attack, the local authorities managed to get in contact with the hijackers and started negotiating the release of the vessel and the crew. Details of the negotiations remain undisclosed.

According to the latest update from UK-based maritime security firm Dryad Global, pirates have now escaped and left the vessel at around 180/75 nautical miles off Lagos Nigeria. 

Dryad Analysis

AIS tracking shows that the vessel took two sharp turns off of its course and slowed from 6.6kts to stopped before AIS signal stopped. The vessel is understood to be remaining in position from where it lost contact, having still not appeared on AIS.

Coastguard authorities have since confirmed that the perpetrators are still onboard the vessel. The lack of immediate kidnap would indicate that the perpetrators potentially sought options for either offloading or selling refined product that may be onboard.

This incident is the second hijacking within the GoG in 2020. Such incidents remain rare due to both their complexity and high risk of interdiction by maritime security forces. The last known Hijack occurred on the 15 May 20 when the fishing vessels, HAILUFENG 11 lost contact with its company and disappeared from AIS. The vessel was latterly interdicted by Nigerian special forces resulting in the detention of the pirates, highlighting the risks of such operations and thus their rarity.

The Gulf of Guinea HRA was raised to a critical risk rating following a sharp increase in incidents in the past week, including 2 successful kidnappings within 3 days. Vessels are advised to exercise heightened caution in this region.

This is the 23rd kidnapping incident in the Gulf of Guinea in 2020, with a total of 118 persons kidnapped, Dryad Global said.