Five crew members of the fishing vessel Atlantic Princess were kidnapped after pirates boarded her south of the Ghanaian port Tema.
According to Dryad Global the 55m long fishing vessel, registration IMO8124412, was approached by a speedboat with eight pirates aboard. The Atlantic Princess was apparently fired on before she was boarded by five of the speedboat’s eight crew.
The vessel was allegedly hijacked and sailed 100 nautical miles south 100nm before the pirates left the Korean captained tuna fisher.
The Atlantic Princess attack is the first kidnap in the Gulf of Guinea since 15 March bringing to 56 the number of crew forcibly taken from fishing and merchant vessels in the body of water this year.
“This incident represents the furthest westerly kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea to date,” Dryad said adding “Trends over the past 18 months indicated a broadening of the pirate footprint in the Gulf of Guiana, beyond the traditional Nigerian EEZ heartland”.
“Reports from crew members indicate two hours prior to the attack, a rusted looking mini-tanker vessel was sighted off the horizon with its AIS off. The vessel is understood to have manoeuvred away from the suspicious tanker. Further, unverifiable, reporting indicates the crew identified the pirates as Nigerians. Given the distance of the incident from Nigerian waters, it remains a possibility that the vessel sighted by the crew was used as a mothership for launching and sustaining deep offshore operations.”