A Kiribati-flagged tanker hijacked off the coast of Ghana last month has been released by pirates, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
Owners of the MT Hai Soon 6 confirmed Sunday that vessel had been released after the pirates stole part of the ship’s cargo around 60 nautical miles east of Lagos, Nigeria. All 21 crew are reported to be safe, the IMB report said.
As gCaptain reported previously, the MT Hai Soon 6 was boarded and hijacked by a group of 10 heavily armed pirates on July 25th about 46 nautical miles south of Anloga, Ghana during bunkering operations. The incident was immediately reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre by the mother vessel being bunkered, prompting an alert to all ship’s in the area to be alert for the hijacked tanker. The vessel was last reported to be sailing in a southeasterly direction towards Nigerian waters before all contact was lost.
The IMB says that the owners of the Hai Soon 6 reestablished contact with the vessel on August 3rd in Nigerian waters, and it was reported that the pirates had stolen part of the cargo by transferring it to pirate vessels.
This latest hijack highlights the continued threat to product tankers operating in the waters and anchorages of the Gulf of Guinea, says maritime intelligence firm Dryad Maritime.
“We heard the good news of the release and subsequently located the vessel in exactly the place we expected to, off the Niger Delta and over 200 miles from the point that the Hai Soon 6 went missing,” commented Ian Millen, Chief Operating Officer of Dryad Maritime. “The bad news is that this is the third successful cargo theft this year in West Africa. From Angola in the south to Ghana in the west, 2014 has seen Nigerian gangs continue to demonstrate their ability to hijack vessels at considerable range from the criminal’s origins, invariably in the Niger Delta. The fact that they manage to take and retain control of a vessel, remaining undetected for up to a week, whilst organizing an STS operation to offload the cargo, tells you all you need to know about the relative abilities of the gangs and the regional states that are struggling to deal with this problem. The initiative very clearly lies with the bad guys and turning the tables on them is long overdue.”