Manager loses contact with general cargo vessel after pirate attack
Chinese vessel manager Tianjin Xinhai International Ship Management has lost contact with its general cargo vessel Huanghai Glory after the vessel sent a piracy alert using its Ship Security Alert System (SSAS).
An unknown number of pirates are believed to have boarded the vessel, which is currently drifting off the coast of Nigeria. The vessel’s manager has not been able to get in touch with the vessel and its 23 Chinese crew members since the initial incident alert, reports maritime security consultant Dryad Global. The Nigeria Navy has been informed and has dispatched a vessel to investigate.
The attack is the third incident off the Nigerian coast in 24 hours, with all incidents happening in close proximity of each other. Five hours earlier a tanker was boarded 45 nautical miles south of Cotonou and this incident itself followed another approach of a vessel 50 nautical miles south of Lomé.
“In the first incident, the vessel reported being approached by a skiff containing 9-10 persons. In the second incident, the vessel was believed to have been boarded by 5-6 persons. It is assessed as highly likely that the perpetrators of all three incidents are the same grouping and are highly likely to have originated from within Nigeria”, Dryad Global states in a Channel 16 report.
Piracy off the coast of Nigeria, Benin and Togo have increased sharply in recent years with more incidents being reported further out at sea. Pirates also more frequently kidnap crewmembers to collect a ransom.
According to Dryad, pirates in the region increasingly carry out attacks further away from shore and beyond the Nigerian exclusive economic zone in response to increased security measures in the territorial waters. “In this particular incident, it is highly likely that the perpetrators sought to target a vessel whilst in transit to their original location”, Dryad concludes.