Seven Crew Members Kidnapped from Bourbon AHTS Off Nigeria

The Bourbon Liberty 249

7 crewmembers from a Bourbon Offshore AHTS have been kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria, the French offshore services company confirmed Wednesday.

Bourbon say that the 7 crew members – 6 Russians and 1 Estonian – were kidnapped during a boarding of the Bourbon Liberty 249 on October 15, 2012 in Nigeria. 9 others who were onboard at the time and are still with the vessel, which is heading for the Port of Onne. The 9 crew members are said to be safe and in good health.

“The emergency unit has been set up to aim at their rapid liberation under the safest security conditions,” the company said in a statement.

The incident is the latest in a number of attacks off the coast of Nigeria and in the Gulf of Guinea.

Kidnappings for ransom in the oil-rich Niger Delta are not all that uncommon.  In November, 3 crew members from an Edison Chouest Offshore supply vessel were kidnapped in a similar attack off the coast of Nigeria. The men were returned a few weeks later, unharmed. The conditions of their return, including whether or not a ransom was paid, were never disclosed.

In 2010, three French crewmen were kidnapped off a Bourbon-operated ship off coast of Nigeria and were later released.

This week’s incident has been confirmed by the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry who said that the pirates escaped into Nigerian territory after the kidnapping, and are likely to demand a ransom.

Update: Our editors have updated the article, correcting earlier statements that kidnappings in the oil fields are not common. Pirates who attack cargo ships off Lagos are not known to kidnap for ransom, rather generally attack ships to steal cargo and fuel.