Photo courtesy French Navy

Monjasa Reformer Located in Gulf of Guinea After Pirate Attack; Six Crew Missing

Mike Schuler
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March 31, 2023

A patrol vessel with the French Navy has located the missing tanker Monjasa Reformer four days after it was attacked by pirates and went missing in the Gulf of Guinea.

Six crew members are reported missing.

The French Navy vessel, Premier Maître L’Her, located the vessel Thursday using an aerial drone before rescuing and providing assistance to the crew. The operation was conducted in collaboration with regional partners and the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade Gulf of Guinea (MDAT GoG) information center.

On Saturday, March 25, at 22:39 UTC, the Liberia-flagged oil tanker Monjasa Reformer, with 16 crew members, reported an ongoing attack by five armed pirates while located approximately 140 nautical miles (nm) west of Pointe Noire, Congo. MDAT GoG, located in Brest, France, and Portsmouth, UK, relayed this information to relevant authorities.

Photo courtesy French Navy

The French Navy’s Premier Maître L’Her, engaged in Operation Corymbe, proceeded to the tanker’s last known location with support from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) Monrovia, regional navies, and the MDAT-GoG, which maintained communication with the ship’s owner.

The vessel briefly reappeared on AIS on Tuesday approximately 470nm away from its last known position.

On Thursday, March 30, Premier Maître L’Her located the Monjasa Reformer en route to Nigeria using an aerial drone, which also identified a pirate boat alongside the tanker. However a subsequent reconnaissance flight showed the pirate boat had departed.

Premier Maître L’Her later received a distress message Thursday evening from Monjasa Reformer, as the vessel was approximately 90nm south of Bonny, indicating that six crew members had been kidnapped by the pirates, prompting the patrol vessel initiated a rescue operation.

The patrol vessel embarking an inspection team, including a nurse and a doctor, to the tanker in cooperation with Nigerian authorities.

Following an initial medical check-up, it was determined three crew members had sustained minor injuries, which were treated by the onboard doctor.

On Friday morning, Nigerian patrol vessel NNS Gongola arrived in the area. In coordination with the shipowner, Premier Maître L’Her escorted Monjasa Reformer to the port of Lomé.

MDAT-GoG has issued a warning to mariners in the area regarding the piracy threat, advising exercise extreme caution when transiting the area.

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