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All six seafarers who were kidnapped from a Liberia-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf of Guinea last month have been returned safely, the ship’s owner, Monjasa, confirmed Monday. The seafarers were recovered from an undisclosed location in Nigeria.
The Monjasa Reformer, with 16 crew members on board, was attacked by pirates on March 25, approximately 140 nautical miles west of Port Pointe-Noire, Congo, before disappearing.
A patrol vessel with the French Navy located the missing tanker four days later off of Sao Tomé & Principe, approximately 90nm south of Bonny, Nigeria. Upon boarding the vessel, the boarding team discovered that pirates had made off with six of the vessel’s crew members.
The Monjasa Reformer is owned by shipping group Monjasa and technically managed by Montec Ship Management.
“All recovered crew members are in a relatively good health condition given the difficult circumstances they have been under in the last more than five weeks,” said Monjasa Group CEO, Anders Østergaard. “They have all been receiving medical checks and are now being repatriated to their home countries to reunite with their families.”
“We are immensely grateful for the support received from our professional advisors, navies and authorities, and to all others who have helped us resolve this awful situation,” Østergaard added.
Monjasa said this and other recent piracy incidents in the region demonstrate the need for joint international action, calling for safe passage routes and a safe zone off West Africa to be monitored by an international coalition.
“We truly admire our crew members for their bravery and would like to thank all the involved families for their patience and resilience during this stressful period of uncertainty,” the company said in its statement. “In connection with the incident, we know that our crew members have been acting diligently and in accordance with the on board anti-piracy emergency protocol. The overall policy, which comprises measures to be taken both during and after a possible assault, is continually evaluated according to the risk environment.”
This latest incident highlights the dangers still faced by seafarers in the region, even as the number of piracy incidents has fallen. According to the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre, in the first quarter of 2023 the Gulf of Guinea had just five reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery, compared to eight in 2022 and 16 in 2021. Despite the declining trend, the IMB said the Monjasa Reformer incident highlights the continued need for vigilance and swift naval responses when incidents are reported.
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