Captain, crew snatched off Nigeria

Eoin O’Cinneide¬†

Three crew members have been kidnapped from a platform supply vessel (PSV) off Nigeria in the latest sign of insecurity off the major West African oil producer.

Armed bandits attacked the Nigerian-owned vessel Prince Joseph 1 on Tuesday before making off with the three seafarers, its owner confirmed to Upstream.

Those taken include the captain, chief engineer and a Panamanian superintendent.

The Nigeria-flagged vessel was set upon at around 1:30am local time 14 miles off Akwa Ibom state. There were no casualties or injuries as a result of the assault, but wheelhouse windows were damaged.

The 3240-deadweight-tonne PSV – a 2012 build – continued to Onne port with the rest of the crew.

Nigerian owner Awaritse Nigeria has not had any communication with the abducted crew or their kidnappers.

The assault came on the same day armed pirates in two boats fired on a bulk carrier 60 miles west-south-west of Brass, Nigeria, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB)’s Piracy Reporting Centre.

The vessel increased speed and took evasive manoeuvres before the gunmen aborted the attack. The vessel sustained bullet damage to the accommodation tower.

In late January, armed bandits seized two crew members from an Eni-connected tug off Nigeria’s Bayelsa state.

The attack on the Agip tug came on the same weekend a tanker that was hijacked off Angola was released off Nigeria.

The IMB said in a report in mid-January that Nigerian piracy increased last year to their highest level since 2008 with incidents off West Africa now accounting for almost one fifth of the worldwide total.

Sea criminals linked with Nigeria proved “particularly violent” in 2013 and have moved their operations further offshore and to neighbouring countries, it said.

In total there were 264 attacks on ships worldwide last year, a 40% drop from 2011 when Somalia piracy was at its peak and 237 attacks occurred in that region alone.

Some 300 people were taken hostage last year with 12 ships hijacked, 202 boarded and 22 fired upon, while there were a further 28 attempted hijackings.

West Africa accounted for 19% of all attacks in 2013, with Nigerian pirates said to be responsible for 31 out of 51 attacks in the region, holding 49 people hostage and kidnapping 36.


Original Article