Athens - Pirates have kidnapped 19 crew members from a crude oil tanker off Nigeria in an area where acts of piracy are on the rise, an official with the ship’s operator said on Thursday. The loaded vessel, the Nave Constellation, was attacked 77 nautical miles off Bonny Island on Tuesday and 18 Indians and one Turk from the crew were seized, the official said.
Seven other crew members remain on board the vessel. Neither the vessel nor the cargo were damaged, the official said. The shipping industry has warned in recent months about the increasing dangers faced by seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly around Nigeria, including kidnappings by pirates. The International Maritime Bureau said in October the Gulf of Guinea accounted for more than four fifths of crew kidnappings globally.
Maritime security officials say that over the past year there has been a growing shift by pirate gangs in the Gulf of Guinea and especially Nigeria toward kidnapping crews rather than stealing cargoes, to try to extort ransom from ship owners. The head of Nigeria’s Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Dakuku Peterside, said authorities were working to ensure the crew are secured and those abducted, released. He said the vessel owners had operated for 10 days in Nigerian waters without contacting harbor masters or Nigerian authorities.(Read more)