Armed pirates attacked and boarded a container vessel in the Gulf of Guinea last week, but all crew were reported safe after taking shelter in the vessel’s citadel.
The Maersk Tema, operated by Hamburg-based Bernhard Schulte Ship Management (BSM), was attacked by two speedboats in the Gulf of Guinea on Friday whilst off the Nigerian coast, the company said. The pirates apparently boarded the vessel, but the 21 crew were reported safe after they took refuge in the vessel’s citadel and waited for help from Portuguese and Nigerian naval vessels.
Maersk Tema is a 2015-built container ship managed by BSM, and has a capacity of about 5 000 TEU.
There has been a spate of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in recent months. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), despite overall piracy incidents declining in 2019, there was “an alarming increase” in crew kidnappings across the Gulf of Guinea.
The number of crew kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea increased more than 50% from 78 in 2018 to 121 in 2019. This equates to over 90% of global kidnappings reported at sea with 64 crew members kidnapped across six separate incidents in the last quarter of 2019. The region accounted for 64 incidents including all four vessel hijackings in 2019, as well as 10 out of 11 vessels reported being fired at.