Pirates who kidnapped 15 sailors from a Turkish-crewed containership, MV Mozart, in the Gulf of Guinea off Sao Tome on Saturday have made their first contact with the shipping company to discuss a ransom.
Technical managers of the MV Mozart, Istanbul-based Boden Denizcilik confirmed that all 15 seafarers are well, uninjured and together, and their families have been contacted.
The containership was attacked as it was underway some 100 nautical miles off the coast of Sao Tome while en route from Lagos, Nigeria to Cape Town, South Africa, on January 23. During the incident, armed pirates apparently gained access to the ship’s citadel, a type of safe room on board the vessel, possibly through the use of explosives. One sailor, an Azerbaijani citizen, was killed in the raid while the pirates fled the vessel with 15 hostages – all of them Turks, leaving three behind who sailed the vessel to Gabon waters, where they were met by authorities.
“Boden confirm that contact has been established with crew members of its container vessel MOZART who were abducted off Sao Tome on January 23,” an update from the company said. “The company can confirm that all 15 seafarers are well, uninjured and together. Boden and its partners at Borealis continue to do everything possible to secure the earliest release of its seafarers, which remains its overriding priority, and is in regular contact with the families of our detained crew. For the safety and well being of the crew, their families, and the wider Boden community, Boden and Borealis will not discuss this matter further.”
Boden Denizcilik is a subsidiary of Borealis Maritime. The MV Mozart is a 2,824 TEU containership registered in Liberia and built in 2007.
The incident comes as piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has surged in recent years, hitting a record in 2020 with 130 crew kidnappings in 22 separate incidents, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre. Also concerning is the fact that attacks are increasingly violent and occurring farther from shore, highlighting the increasing capabilities of armed pirate gangs in the region.