Singapore-based offshore vessel operator Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO) confirmed Sunday that pirates attacked the anchor handler Pacific Warden off the coast of Equatorial Guinea last week.
Last Wednesday, at about 0500 local time, a group of attackers boarded the Pacific Warden while she was supporting offshore field operations off Equatorial Guinea. Seven crewmembers out of 15 on board were taken by the attackers and are still missing. The local authorities and the Navy of Equatorial Guinea responded quickly to the incident, Swire said. The eight other crewmembers and the vessel itself are all safe.
“The safety of the people on board our vessel is always our top priority. SPO will do everything possible to secure the safe and timely return of the missing crew members, in coordination with their families and relevant authorities,” Swire said in a statement.
Swire did not release the names of the abductees, and it asked the media to respect the privacy of the affected crewmembers’ families.
Kidnapping is an all-to-frequent problem for maritime operators in the Gulf of Guinea, the world capital of maritime piracy. Historically, the epicenter of the problem was located off the coast of the Niger River Delta, an area home to well-armed militants with a long history of oil theft and related crimes. This year, multiple hijackings and kidnappings have also occurred to the west, off Togo and Benin, and to the southeast, off Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.