Latest attack in GoG pushes kidnapping tally to 122 seafarers

Four seafarers have been kidnapped in the latest piracy attack in the Gulf of Guinea involving a crude oil tanker.

Illustration; Image courtesy: Eunavfor/Operation Atalanta

The boarding of MV Agisilaos was reported on November 29, according to Dryad Global, while the vessel was underway in Ghanaian waters, 5 nautical miles from the Western edge of the Gulf of Guinea HRA, and 22 nautical miles west of Togo TTW. The ship was approaching the port of Lome, Togo.

The MR1 tanker, built in 2006 by Hyundai Mipo, was underway from Point Noire and is currently anchored in Lome, data from the Marine Traffic shows.

The Marshall Islands-registered tanker is owned by Polarwind Maritime, and commercially controlled by Curzon Maritime from the UK, according to VesselsValue information. It is operated by Singapore-based Diamond Shipping. The ship is worth $ 10.4 million, VV estimates.

Diamond S Shipping confirmed the kidnapping on Agisilaos, managed and crewed by Capital Ship Management.

“The company confirms that there were 22 seafarers aboard when the attack occurred.  There have been no reports of injuries at this time. All appropriate authorities have been notified and Diamond S is fully supporting Capital as they respond to this situation,” the company said.

“Diamond S will not comment further on these operational issues to avoid potentially jeopardizing the safety of the crew members being held or prolonging their stay in captivity.”

Dryad said that the vessel’s AIS data indicates that the ship’s crew attempted to avoid the boarding through evasive maneuvers but was not successful. The tanker reportedly had 23 crew members onboard prior to the incident, including Russian, Romanian, and Filipino nationals. 

As informed, the vessel is now reported safe. Local authorities have been notified.  

This is the 24th confirmed kidnapping incident in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea within 2020 with 122 crew kidnapped from vessels, data from Dryad shows. The attack is being reported on the back of a string of successful kidnappings in the area over the past month.

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“While the design of this vessel does not signal any overarching vulnerabilities, this incident highlights the desperation of perpetrators in the region. Counter-piracy operations and logistical strains mean larger vessels may be targeted should attacks targeting smaller vessels with vulnerable characteristics be unsuccessful,” Dryad said.

“Further attacks on vessels underway are highly likely, and vessels are advised to exercise heightened caution within and on approach to the Gulf of Guinea HRA.”