MSC to negotiate release of crew kidnapped off Cotonou

MSC Mandy. PHOTO CREDIT: VesselFinder
MSC Mandy. PHOTO CREDIT: VesselFinder

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) said it is setting up a team to negotiate with the pirates who kidnapped six Russian sailors from one if its containerships, the MSC Mandy, off the coast of Cotonou, Benin Republic, on January 2.

“We have engaged security experts and are creating a team for contacting the pirates. The team will include lawyers, negotiators, and employees of a company that deals with security. We hope to establish the first contact today,” MSC spokesman, Rafaele Porzio, said on Wednesday. 

The company, according to him, had already recruited experts who had provided recommendations on a plan to rescue the abducted seamen.

The company has also communicated with the Russian Embassy in Nigeria, asking it to “influence the Nigerian authorities,” according to Porzio.

However, Porzio said he was not aware of the result of these negotiations.

The pirates attacked the MSC Mandy off Benin Republic’s southern coast last Wednesday as it was sailing in the Gulf of Guinea. They looted the ship and took the captain, his chief mate, and six Russian sailors captive. There were 23 Russians and a Ukrainian citizen on board. The ship then docked at the port city of Cotonou, Benin’s largest city.

The Russian Embassy in Nigeria said it is cooperating with the Nigerian government in order to track down the location of the captives.