MARITIME STAKEHOLDERS RENEW CALLS FOR SECURITY AS PIRATE GANGS ATTACK AT LEAST 5 SHIPS IN 72 HOURS IN THE GULF OF GUINEA AXIS
Maritime stakeholders have renewed calls for improved security on the waters as seafarers record at least 5 pirate incidents in 72 hours in the Gulf of Guinea travelling from the coast of Sao Tome.
On Saturday, February 6, a group of about 8 pirates boarded a product tanker, named Sea Phantom at approximately 115 nautical miles off the coast of Cameroon. The crew retreated to the citadel while navy who responded to the ship’s distress call in Naval vessels and helicopters rescued the ship while the pirates fled.
A Gabon-flagged fishing vessel named Lianpengyu, however, was not that Lucky as the ship was hijacked by pirates while fishing tuna in the region on Sunday, February 7.
The Ship was last seen on Tuesday, February 9 in position at 02° 06 38N – 005° 47 12E – 285° 103nm off Santo Antonio – Sao Tome and the whereabouts of the members of crew which comprise of up to 18 Chinese nationals remain unknown.
Security experts suspect that it is being used as a mother ship for the pirates as they seek additional opportunist targets.
A hypothesis backed by a pirate incident recorded on Monday, February 8 which involved an oil tanker named SEAKING. Crew members reported sighting a small boat launch from a mother vessel-( which experts strongly suspect is the Lianpengyu fishing vessel). The small boat tried to board the vessel using a ladder.
Fortunately, the SEAKING was successfully carried out evasive manoeuvres and avoided the pirates.
On Tuesday, February 9, another oil tanker named MARIA E was boarded at 108nm SW Sao Tome, in the vicinity of the hijacked LIANPENGYU 809.
The MARIA E is the 4th pirate incident to occur within 24 hours in the waters off Sao Tome and experts believe the attacks are being carried out by the same pirate gangs responsible for the hijacked LIANPENGYU 809.
ADVISORY: All vessels should avoid the vicinity of the reported incidents until the gang of pirates are apprehended. Seafarers operating on the Gulf of Guinea must be extra vigilant and promptly notify maritime security of any suspicious movements while stakeholders must expedite the implementation of a fail-proof security measure to ensure the safety of lives and properties of seafarers at sea.