8 Seafarers Abducted By Pirates Off Nigeria. Armed pirates abducted eight crew members from tug operating off Nigeria on Wednesday, while another tanker was targeted in the general area, the International Maritime Bureau reported Thursday.
The IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre confirmed the abducting, reporting that an offshore tug was attacked and boarded by armed pirates at approximately 09:34 UTC around 11 nautical miles south of Brass, Nigeria. The pirates escaped the vessel abducting eight crew and wounding one. The Nigerian Navy responded to the incident and evacuated the injured crew member by helicopter.
In a separate incident, the IMB said a group of nine pirates in a skiff approached and fired upon a tanker underway about 59 nautical miles south-southwest of Brass at around 08:45 UTC. The crew was able to raise the alarm, started the fire pumps, and all non-essential crew retreated to the citadel. The tanker increased speed and conducted evasive maneuvers and the pirate skiff was seen aborting the attack. The crew and tanker are reported safe.
This is just a few weeks after a bulk carrier was attacked off Nigeria on March 8 when seven gunmen approached in a skiff and fired upon the ship underway. The attack occurred around 106 nautical miles southwest of Bayelsa Coast, according to data provided by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
The bulker increased speed and commenced evasive maneuver. Some of the crew members retreated to the citadel. After 40 minutes, the skiff aborted the attack and sailed away. No injuries were reported and no one has been arrested.
The bulker in question is the 2011-built Sofia, owned by Greece-based Goldenport Shipmanagement. Sofia’s AIS data shows that the 57,000 dwt ship is currently anchored at the Port of Owendo.
Nigerian pirates also on March 5, released seven Russian sailors and one Ukrainian sailor after they were abducted early last month on the cargo ship the BBC Caribbean. The sailors had been released after talks between the owners of the ship and pirates.
Activist Pavel Butsay from Sevastopol said that a ransom was paid but did not disclose the sum.
The BBC Caribbean cargo vessel belongs to the German Briese Schiffahrts cargo company. It was attacked in Nigeria’s waters on February 5.
Security experts say the seas off the coast of Western Africa are some of the world’s most dangerous, with pirate ships often seizing oil tankers and holding sailors for ransom. According to the IMB, so far in 2017 there have been five boardings, four vessels fired upon, and two reports of suspicious vessels off Nigeria.