Seven crewmembers from the offshore supply tug Pacific Warden have been kidnapped off the coast of Equatorial Guinea.
Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO), which operates the vessel, said the Pacific Warden was attacked on 20 November off the coast of Equatorial Guinea whilst assisting with offshore field operations.
Of the 15 crew on board, seven were taken by the attackers and remain missing. The crew are believed to come from South African, Cameroon, the Philippines and Serbia. The local authorities and the Navy of Equatorial Guinea responded quickly to the incident, Swire said. After the attack the vessel subsequently moved to Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.
“The safety of the people on board our vessel is always our top priority. SPO will do everything possible to secure the safe and timely return of the missing crew members, in coordination with their families and relevant authorities,” Swire Pacific Offshore said.
According to Dryad Global, this is the third kidnapping incident within 30 nautical miles of the western side of Bioko Island within 2019 with two additional incidents involving vessels being fired upon at a distance of 50 nautical miles.
“It is assessed that the piracy conducted in this area originates from within Nigerian waters. The PAG [pirate action group] involved is believed to be a well-established grouping with significant resources and the capacity to conduct deep offshore operations via a mothership vessel. It is assessed that the PAG involved is seeking to conduct operations beyond the Nigerian EEZ seeking to exploit the relative absence of established security presence in the 60 nautical mile channel between the Nigerian EEZ and Bioko. All incidents within 2019 in this area have involved offshore support vessels with particularly vulnerable vessel parameters.”