Another attack in West African waters

Bourbon Liberty

Seven crew from the French-owned offshore anchor handling vessel Bourbon Liberty were kidnapped by armed pirates this week while the ship was offshore of the Niger Delta in West Africa.

The remaining crew of nine later sailed the ship to safety in the Nigerian Port of Onne. Those kidnapped were six Russians and one Estonian.

“The emergency unit set up immediately by Bourbon [owner/operator of the vessel] has been set up to aim at their rapid liberation under the safest security conditions,” the company said in a statement.

The pirate attack is not the first for Bourbon – in 2010 pirates attacked a Bourbon-operated offshore oil platform and later kidnapped three French employees who were subsequently ransomed and released.

Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, said earlier this week that it had prevented an armed attack on a ship off the Benin coast and had arrested 15 suspected pirates in possession of arms and ammunition.

Giving little other details of the arrest and seizure of the pirate suspects and their weapons, NIMASAs Director-General, Patrick Akpobolokemi, said that the agency's activities in the war against piracy led to foiling the hijack and arrest of the suspects. He said the agency's extension of its anti-piracy operation in Benin waters was under the direction of President Goodluck Jonathan and was based on the request of the President of Benin.

He claimed NIMASA was assisting in curbing the menace of piracy and border-related vices within the Benin Republic waters and its neighbouring states of Nigeria, Togo and Ghana.

If the issue was not tackled, he maintained, it would lead to increased costs on cargo, resulting in an increase in the cost of goods and services, and tilting Nigeria towards the Somali situation. On the other hand, he maintained that there had been a steady decline in the cases of piracy in Nigerian waters since NIMASA entered the war against piracy.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is reported to have placed a floating armoury vessel offshore of Galle Island to assist ships sailing in pirate threatened waters of the Indian Ocean.

The vessel is the Sri Lankan-flagged offshore supply tug MAHANUWARA (1036-gt, built 1975) which will be used for guard transfers and their arming. Earlier, Sri Lanka’s defence ministry had expressed concern about establishing the bona fides of the security companies providing armed guards, and strict rules concerning proper record keeping and accountability have been set.

The tug/floating armoury will be operated by Avant Garde Maritime Services of Sri Lanka.

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This edition

Issue 2020