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Latest Gulf of Guinea kidnapping prompts Union call for international action on piracy

6 December 2019

Nautilus has continued to urge international co-operation on piracy amid mounting concern for 19 crew kidnapped by pirates off Nigeria in one of the single largest reported kidnappings in 2019.

The Union's general secretary Mark Dickinson said: 'Nautilus International is concerned about the increasing risk to seafarers operating on ships off the coast of west Africa and has been calling on governments and shipping companies to urgently act to fight the rise in piracy and kidnapping incidents.

'The union for maritime professionals is concerned that the rise in attacks, including the kidnapping this week of 19 crew members from an oil tanker off Nigeria, is putting seafarers at considerable risk for just doing their jobs, as well as increasing the physical and mental health toll on all seafarers while transiting the area.

'The Gulf of Guinea was designated a high-risk area by the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) in early November and the entire maritime industry urgently needs to take action to improve prevention, reporting and response to attacks across the Gulf of Guinea.'

The attack was 100 miles off the coast of Nigeria: Image: Getty Images

According to online Nigerian news agency the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has pledged to facilitate the fast release of 19 seafarers. They were abducted on board a Greek-owned tanker the Hong Kong-flagged, Nave Constellation, on 3 December 2019. The Nigerian security forces have mounted an intensive search for the pirates but have yet to make contact with those holding the oil tanker crew, according to various news reports.

The 19 seafarers, 18 of Indian origin and one of Turkish origin were abducted near Nigeria's Egina oil field project, 100 nautical miles off the Bonny Offshore Terminal.

Seven crew members were reportedly left onboard the vessel following the attack and were instructed to take the tanker to a safe position to await the arrival of a security vessel and other support craft, according to an official statement from the vessel managers Navios and Anglo-Eastern Tanker Management (Hong Kong)

In November Nautilus added its voice to calls by international unions for urgent global and regional co-operation by governments and shipping companies in response to 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.

In November two pirates kidnapped nine crew members from Norwegian-flagged MV Bonita off the coast of Benin. Several other abductions have been reported in the Gulf of Guinea in recent months, including eight crew taken hostage off Cameroon in August, and 10 Turkish seafarers off the coast of Nigeria in July.

The Nave Constellation had received a 'green risk rating' by International Marine Risk Rating Agency (IMRRA). IMRRA is vessel data tracker FleetMon's official vessel risk Rating Partner, and had assessed Nave Constellation in May 2019 as having a 'green risk rating', with a specific risk rating of 30%, compared to the fleet average 35%.

  • Concerned members can also call Nautilus 24/7 helpline in case of emergency
  • keep an eye on the risk ratings on the ITF/IBF website 


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