A Greek oil tanker with 24 crewmembers has lost contact with its owners in the Gulf of Guinea, sparking fears that the ship may have been hijacked by pirates.
According to the ICC’s International Maritime Bureau, the Liberian-flagged Fair Artemis lost contact with its owners on Wednesday while off the coast of Ghana’s capital city of Accra.
The tanker has 24 crewmembers onboard, according to a statement from the ship’s owners, Fairdeal Group Management S.A., which has been obtained by OceanUSLive.org.
A spokesperson for the company said on Saturday the ship remained missing but gave no further details, according to a Reuters report.
“Our primary concern … is for the safety of those on board the vessel. We would like to assure their families and all stakeholders that we are fully committed to returning the crew and vessel to a safe port,” said Fairdeal fleet director John Gray in a statement.
A senior official at the port in Tema, east of Ghana’s capital, told Reuters: “We had a distress call from the master of the ship yesterday (Friday) saying he was 36 nautical miles away from our waters after he was hijacked and looted in Togolese waters early Wednesday.”
The Gulf of Guinea is home to one of the world’s most piracy prone areas, with most incidents occurring along or off the coast of Nigeria where gangs hijack vessels mostly to steal cargo. Pirates however have been known to attack ships off the Ivory Coast to the west and south as far as Angola.
If the hijacking of Fair Artemis proves true, it would be the westernmost incident reported to the IMB this year.