15 kidnapped seafarers of Davide B tanker freed

All 15 seafarers who were abducted from Davide B vessel in the Gulf of Guinea on March 11 have been released and are now safe, De Poli Tankers informed.

Illustration; Image credit: EUNAVFOR/Operation Atalanta

The attack took place some 213 nautical miles off South Cotonou, Benin, according to a report from Dryad Global.

The Maltese-flagged chemical tanker had a total of 21 crew members on board when it was attacked. Dryad said that the vessel had been boarded by 9 armed individuals.

The incident has been described as the furthest recorded kidnapping from the shore in GoG.

The crew members have received medical checks, De Poli Tankers said, adding that they were in a relatively good condition given the difficult circumstances they have been under in the last weeks.

“They have meanwhile been in contact with their families and are being repatriated to their home countries,” the update reads.

“De Poli Tankers is relieved the seafarers can be reunited with their loved ones to start recovering from the deeply concerning events. The company would like to compliment the crew for the courage they have shown during this ordeal and like to thank the families for their resilience in a time of great uncertainty.”

Violence against crews is on the rise

The Gulf of Guinea accounted for nearly half (43%) of all reported piracy incidents in the first three months of 2021, according to the latest figures from the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

The report shows that there have been 38 incidents since the start of 2021 compared with 47 incidents during the same period last year.

In the first three months of 2021, 33 vessels were boarded, two ships reported attempted attacks, two vessels were fired upon, and one vessel was hijacked, IMB figures indicate.

Despite a drop in the number of reported piracy incidents for Q1 2021, violence against crew is on the rise in comparison to previous years. Since the start of 2021, 40 crew have been kidnapped compared to 22 crew in Q1 2020. A crew member was also killed in Q1 2021.

GoG accounted for all 40 kidnapped crew incidents, as well as the sole crew fatality.

“Pirates operating within the Gulf of Guinea are well-equipped to attack further away from shorelines and are unafraid to take violent action against innocent crews,” warns IMB Director Michael Howlett.

“It’s critical that seafarers remain cautious and vigilant when travelling in nearby waters and report all incidents to the Regional Authorities and the IMB PRC. Only improved knowledge sharing channels and increased collaboration between maritime response authorities will reduce the risk to seafarers in the region.”